’Jacks seeded second behind powerhouse Owls
Chesapeake 6 — Montgomery 1 Chesapeake 6 — Montgomery 0
ROCKVILLE — Chesapeake College prepped for the upcoming NJCAA Division II Region XX baseball tournament Saturday afternoon by sweeping Montgomery College, 6-1 and 6-0.
Eddie Nevins (3 for 3, two runs, two RBIs) hit two homers, and three other Skipjacks had two hits apiece in the opener as Trevor Gill (4-4) threw a four-hitter with seven strikeouts. Kasey Gast (4-3) tossed a four-hit shutout in the nightcap backed by a two-run homer from Cayden Stover and solo blasts by Tyler Galazin and Matt Wojciechowski.
“We’ve been playing well lately,” Chesapeake head coach Frank Szymanski said. “The team has been focused and locked in. They’ve really grown a lot over the last 52 games and it’s starting to pay off for us.”
The sweep allowed the Skipjacks (3220 overall, 16-10 league) to take a threegame winning streak into this weekend’s regional tournament, which Chesapeake hosts. The Skipjacks are seeded second behind Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference champion Harford (45-9, 251), which went a perfect 6-0 in regional play.
Chesapeake provided Harford with its toughest regional contest, dropping a 3-2 decision in the second game of a doubleheader after the Owls posted a dominating 17-0 win in the opener.
“Any time we get the combination of good pitching, excellent defense and timely hitting, we’re pretty competitive,” Szymanski said. “That was how we played the second game against Harford. We had multiple chances to tie or take the lead in that contest and we just couldn’t get the big hit.”
Jake Shellenberger (2 for 4) put the Raptors (27-14, 15-7) in an early Game 1 hole with a run-scoring single in the first. Nevins cracked a third-inning homer off losing pitcher Harry Thomas (10-1) that staked the Skipjacks to a 2-0 lead.
After Stover’s RBI single in the fourth made it 3-0, the Raptors scored their only run of the day in the bottom half of the inning. Nick Gardner (2 for 4) delivered a fifth-inning double to plate A.J. Robinson to get that run back, making it 4-1.
Nevins hit his second homer of the game as part of a two-run seventh that finalized the score.
“We were really focused on getting a pitch we could drive,” Szymanski said. “Our hitters were resilient — fouling balls off and having quality at-bats. When we got good pitches, we did something with them.”
Wojciechowski broke up a scoreless Game 2 with his fourth-inning homer off Montgomery’s Matt Durkin. Galazin started a two-run fifth with his two-out homer off Durkin, who was replaced after he sandwiched two walks around a Robinson single to load the bases.
Reliever Eddie O’Neill then walked Wojciechowski to force in another run for a 3-0 Chesapeake lead.
Stover hit his two-run shot and Robinson doubled in a sixth-inning run to finish the Game 2 scoring.
Galazin (two runs) went 3 for 3 while Wojciechowski (two RBIs), Robinson and Cohen Kerns (run) each added two hits. Gast walked three and struck out three in the complete-game effort.
The Skipjacks can now turn their attention to the regional tournament, which they open Friday with a 10 a.m. winners’ bracket semifinal against third-seeded Potomac State College of West Virginia University (26-20). The teams were each 3-3 in the region and split a pair of games against one another, but Chesapeake earned the higher seed by virtue of a better overall record against all Division I opponents.
“They’re a quality club,” Szymanski said of the Catamounts. “We like our chances because we have a lot of competitive players that work hard. We’re going to go out there and give it our best effort.”
Harford plays fourth-seeded Hagerstown (32-20 overall, 0-6 region) in Friday’s other winners’ bracket semifinal at 1 p.m.
Chesapeake is fresh off a regular season in which it was third in the conference in runs scored at nearly 7.4 per game. Nevins, who spent most of the season threatening to win a conference triple crown, highlights a balanced offensive attack and is currently among the league leaders in hitting (third at .437), home runs (fourth at 13), RBIs (second at 63), and stolen bases (tied for seventh at 19).
Galazin has been another critical cog in the offense. He is hitting .391 with six homers, 33 RBIs, a team-best 59 runs scored and a second-in-the-state 26 stolen bases. Stover (.376, two homers, 28 RBIs, team-high 19 doubles), Robinson (.364 average, 26 RBIs), Seth Williams (.331 average, 32 RBIs), and Devynn Hancock (.326 average, 21 RBIs) have been other key offensive producers.
“We have a combination of guys who hit for power and average and who can run,” Szymanski said of the team’s offensive balance.
Chesapeake hasn’t just hit well this season. The Skipjacks have also pitched well, currently boasting the third-best earnedrun average (4.60), the fifth-best strikeout total (269), and the fourth-fewest total runs allowed (245) in the league.
Brian Tribbett (6-1, 2.31 ERA), Ty Michaud (6-2, 4.28), Kyle Raubenstine (4-3, 2.57), Gast (4-3, 4.47), and Gill (4-4, 5.59) each won at least four games while 10 pitchers had at least one victory. Raubenstine led the team with five complete games and 53 strikeouts.
“Our pitching staff has given us a chance to win in about 90 percent of the games we’ve played,” Szymanski said. “For them to be that consistent has really been beneficial to our ballclub.”
After Friday’s two winners’ bracket semifinals, the two losers will play a 4 p.m. elimination game in the losers’ bracket. The two winners face off in Saturday’s 11 a.m. winners’ bracket final, with the losers’ bracket final to follow.
The title game and “if” game, if necessary, will be played on Sunday.
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