Western Charles rallies past St. Mary’s in CHASM playoffs
Sunday afternoon’s playoff games in the Coors Charles-St. Mary’s Baseball League produced a pair of dramatic results, leaving three teams standing heading into next weekend’s action at Rainbow Construction field in La Plata.
Western Charles (20-7 overall) ended the regular season with 10 straight victories to earn the top seed heading into the postseason, double-elimination tournament and Sunday afternoon it rallied for a 7-6 victory over St. Mary’s to earn a bye into next Sunday’s potential championship round.
“Anytime these two teams play it always comes down to the last inning,” said Western Charles manager Tony Stefko, whose team will await the winner of Saturday’s contest between St. Mary’s and Bumpy Oak. Western Charles defeated Bumpy Oak 6-4 on Saturday, while St. Mary’s upended the Black Sox, 7-2. “Both teams made great plays on defense and had good hits.”
St. Mary’s (17-10) scored one run in the first inning and another in the second against Western Charles starter Jim Rice as Lyle Kralle, a Great Mills High School and St. Mary’s College of Maryland graduate, drove in both runs with a double in each frame. Kralle would finish the day 5 for 5 with three runs batted in and a run scored, a stellar performance in a losing cause.
“I love playing against [Western Charles],” Kralle said. “Every time we play them it comes down to the last inning or last at-bat. Both teams really played well today. We made plays on defense and they made plays on defense. We had some good hits and they had timely hits. I hope we play them again, but we have another game to win [on Saturday] before that happens.”
Western Charles claimed its first lead of the game by scoring three runs in the bottom of the second against starter Greg Conden with Jason Boyd and Chris Blondin each driving in a run with a single and Boyd later scoring when St. Mary’s turned a double play that thwarted a considerably bigger inning.
The Door regained the lead in the top of the fourth by scoring three times against Rice. Kralle kept his perfect day alive with an RBI single and Jason Bean followed with a bloop single to left and Kralle later scored on a reverse double play that ended the inning.
Western Charles countered with three runs in the bottom of the fifth to regain the lead on consecutive singles by Johnny Klopfer III, Ricky Brady and Boyd. St. Mary’s tied the game in the top of the seventh, but Western Charles reliever Danny Ladd, who entered with two runners aboard and none out, limited the damage by allowing only one inherited runner to score.
“When I came into the game I was just thinking about throwing strikes,” said Ladd, who would eventually garner the win. “I knew my defense was going to make plays behind me. I had complete confidence in the guys backing me up.”
Western Charles scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth against St. Mary’s southpaw reliever Luke Rush. Blondin had a one-out single and Keith Wood and Tyler Summers both delivered two-out singles. Stefko, running for Blondin, scored the eventual game-winner on Summers chopper into left field. Just after Stefko scored, Wood was thrown out at third trying to get an extra base on Summers single.
“There were two outs and a two runners on and I was just looking for something to hit,” Summers said. “I thought I made good contact and I got one of those legion bounces through the infield. It was a great game. We always have great games with those guys. That’s what I love about playing against them.”
In the game that preceded the winner’s bracket final, Bumpy Oak (12-16) rallied for a 10-7 victory over the Black Sox (12-15) by scoring four times in the top of the ninth. Danny Michael tied the game with a solo home run, then manager Ray Michael inserted himself into the game as a pinch-hitter and smacked a three-run homer to give the Bombers an improbable victory.
Bumpy Oak earned the right to face St. Mary’s at 1 p.m. Saturday at 1 p.m. at Rainbow Construction field with the winner advancing to Sunday’s 1 p.m. game against Western Charles. If Western Charles defeats either team on Sunday, it becomes the champion, but if the Bumpy Oak-St. Mary’s winner defeats Western Charles on Sunday, then a winner-take-all “if” game would be held Sept. 24.
“I hope we can get it done next Sunday,” Ladd said. “Last year the Cubs got us. Hopefully this year we can take care of business.”