West­ern Charles beats Black Sox in CHASM play­offs

Teams re­turn for fi­nal game Satur­day to de­cide CHASM ti­tle

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

After scor­ing one run in each of the first three in­nings on Satur­day af­ter­noon, bol­stered by a pair of solo home runs, the Black Sox ap­peared well on their way to clinch­ing the Coors Charles-St. Mary’s Base­ball League play­off ti­tle over West­ern Charles.

West­ern Charles pitcher Zach O’Dell al­lowed a run in the top of the first and then sur­ren­dered solo home runs to Chris Nut­ter and Erv­ing Nazario in the sec­ond and third in­nings and the Black Sox owned a 3-0 lead early. But O’Dell blanked the vis­i­tors over the last six frames and West­ern Charles ral­lied for a 4-3 vic­tory at Rain­bow Con­struc­tion Field in La Plata to ex­tend the post­sea­son.

In fact, rains had al­ready forced pre­vi­ous post­pone­ments in tour­na­ment play and Sun­day’s sched­uled “if” game, which will even­tu­ally de­ter­mine the league’s cham­pion since nei­ther team no longer has any mar­gin for er­ror in the dou­ble-elim­i­na­tion for­mat, was fit­tingly post­poned by an­other day of rain and resched­uled for 1 p.m. this Satur­day at Rain­bow Con­struc­tion Field.

“I was a lit­tle too hyped up at first and I think my nerves were just get­ting the best of me early,” said O’Dell, who earned the com­plete game vic­tory on Satur­day. “I missed with a fast­ball to Nut­ter and he got ahold of it, but he’s al­ways had my num­ber for some rea­son. Then I left a curve­ball up to [Nazario] and he got all of it.”

Black Sox starter Austin Simms blanked West­ern Charles dur­ing the first two in­nings, but West­ern Charles got two runs back in the third after the Black Sox turned a dou­ble play. After Ja­son Mur­ray walked, Ricky Brady and Chris Blondin had back-to-back sin­gles and Danny Ly­don reached on a field­ing er­ror by Simms that al­lowed Brady to score the sec­ond run.

“The ball just kind of died in the grass,” Simms said. “Those things hap­pen in base­ball. I thought I pitched well. I started to get a lit­tle tired to­ward the end. It was tough to let this one get away. Now we’ll have to come back here and play them again next week.”

West­ern Charles drew even in the bot­tom of the fifth

when Tyler Sum­mers walked, got moved to sec­ond on a sac­ri­fice bunt by Mur­ray then scored on a sin­gle by Brady. Simms pre­vented West­ern Charles from get­ting an­other run that in­ning and pitched a score­less sixth but did not go any fur­ther.

West­ern Charles fi­nally

broke the dead­lock in the home half of the eighth against re­liever Ryan Kesecker. Blondin led off the in­ning with a sin­gle and Ly­don im­me­di­ately fol­lowed with a dou­ble. West­ern Charles ap­peared on the verge of a big in­ning, but it forged the go-ahead run when Kesecker un­corked a wild pitch with one out and the bases loaded be­fore es­cap­ing se­ri­ous harm by

re­tir­ing Sum­mers on a grounder to short.

Staked to his first and only lead of the day, O’Dell capped the com­plete game vic­tory by re­tir­ing the Black Sox in or­der in the top of the ninth on two strike­outs and a rou­tine fly ball to right. With the teams idle on Sun­day, O’Dell sus­pected he would be ready to pitch again this Satur­day if West­ern Charles man­ager

Tony Ste­fko hands him the ball again.

“It’s all up to Tony,” O’Dell saod. “If he wants me to pitch [on Satur­day], then I’ll be ready. I felt pretty good after the first four or five in­nings. It was just a mat­ter of hit­ting my spots and keep­ing the hit­ters guess­ing.”

Trail­ing 3-2 after three in­nings, West­ern Charles catcher Chris Blondin and first base­man Brady

com­pleted a su­perb pick­off that proved to be a sub­tle turn­ing point in the game.

Nazario led off the fourth with a sin­gle then strayed too far off the back and got picked off when Blondin fired a throw to Brady who ap­plied the tag. O’Dell’s next pitch promptly bounced past Blondin, so if Nazario had not been picked off he would have taken sec­ond eas­ily and the Black Sox would have had a run­ner in scor­ing po­si­tion with no outs.

“Chris is al­ways think­ing be­hind the plate and that was a snap throw to first and Brady made a quick tag,” O’Dell said. “I didn’t re­al­ize I bounced the next pitch. It might have been a dif­fer­ent in­ning if Chris doesn’t throw down there and get him.”

STAFF PHOTO BY TED BLACK

West­ern Charles pitcher Zach O’Dell fires to the plate against Black Sox bat­ter Chris Nut­ter in the top of the sec­ond in­ning on Satur­day af­ter­noon in the Coors Charles-St. Mary’s Base­ball League fi­nals at Rain­bow Con­struc­tion Field in La Plata. Nut­ter ac­tu­ally home­red in the at-bat and the Black Sox owned a 3-0 lead early, but West­ern Charles ral­lied for a 4-3 vic­tory as O’Dell tossed a com­plete game.

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