Over-40 League begins with a dra­matic come­back

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By BILL GATES bgates@ches­pub.com

Lo­cal base­ball made its re­turn on Sun­day as the East­ern Bal­ti­more County Over-40 Base­ball League be­gan its much-de­layed sea­son with three games.

The Rays ral­lied from a 6-0 deficit to beat the Dodgers 7-6 at Pat­ap­sco High; the Roy­als de­feated the Di­a­mond­backs 12-5 at the Amer­i­can Le­gion Post 38 field; and the Astros beat the Car­di­nals 9-4 at St. Helena Park.

Like all sports, the Over-40 sea­son had been on hold due to the COVID-19 pan­demic. The league usu­ally begins its sea­son on the last Sun­day n March/first Sun­day in April.

There was never a thought of just giv­ing up on the sea­son, league mem­bers said.

“When pre­sented with an op­por­tu­nity to get back out on the field to play,” I just couldn’t pass it up,” said Scott Ru­dolph, who plays for the Car­di­nals. He played for the de­fend­ing league cham­pion Cubs last sea­son, but joined the Car­di­nals when the Cubs opted to sit out the sea­son.

“Sports have been a huge part of my life,” said Ru­dolph, who played sports in high school and col­lege and is a coach at Pat­ap­sco High. “A short­ened sea­son is bet­ter than no sea­son. We couldn’t play an en­tire sea­son be­cause it would run into the fall. I’m ex­cited for the next five games.”

The pan­demic isn’t a big con­cern, Ru­dolph said, be­cause “base­ball is a sport that al­lows for peo­ple to keep dis­tance from each other.”

Brian Weir, one of the orig­i­nal founders of the Over-40 League in 2010, said peo­ple just wanted to get back a sense of nor­malcy.

“Most peo­ple worked through the pan­demic ev­ery day, but to have a few hours with your friends and break the monotony of all the bad sur­round­ing us,” Weir said. “You re­al­ize how pre­cious our time is here, and don’t want to let it pass you by.”

When the state de­clared it was now in Phase 2 of the re­cov­ery plan, it opened the door for sports to be­gin.

Over-40 League Com­mis­sioner Eu­gene Beres and League Co­or­di­na­tor Frank Roberts got to work ham­mer­ing out a sched­ule, get­ting the pa­per­work fin­ished and ar­rang­ing field per­mits.

The League will play a seven-week sched­ule end­ing on Au­gust 9, with each team play­ing six games. The post­sea­son will be­gin the fol­low­ing week.

With seven teams, each team will play one game against ev­ery other team in the league.

The game be­tween the Rays and the Dodgers was well-played, con­sid­er­ing the long lay­off and lack of prac­tice.

Trail­ing 6-0 in the top of the fifth, the Rays scored three runs with two outs to halve their deficit.

Sonny Weaver started the rally with a one­out dou­ble. Two walks and a fielder’s choice loaded the bases, and an­other walk forced in a run.

A bloop sin­gle to shal­low cen­ter by Corey Good­win drove in two more runs.

In the top of the sixth the Rays loaded the bases with no outs on a walk, throw­ing er­ror and hit bat­ter.

The Dodgers pulled off a 6-4-3 dou­ble play, with one run scor­ing. A sin­gle up the mid­dle made it a one-run game.

The Rays took a 7-6 lead in the top of the sev­enth. With two outs and a run­ner on first, Weaver tripled to deep right field and scored the game-win­ning run on a soft line sin­gle over short­stop.

The Dodgers were shut out over the last five in­nings, with just two hits. The Rays didn’t get their first hit un­til the fourth in­ning.

That one Dodgers had an op­por­tu­nity in the sev­enth in­ning, when Tony Ranoc­chia tripled to right field with one out.

A strike­out and a ground­out ended the in­ning.

In the eighth, John Frank led off with a dou­ble and the Dodgers had first and third with one out after a Rays er­ror.

Lance Mauck smacked a liner down the first base line. It was snagged by first base­man Good­win, who dou­bled the run­ner off the base.

The Dodgers had taken a 2-0 lead in the third in­ning as Ranoc­chia led off with a sin­gle and Josh Maerten walked.

A ground­out ad­vanced the run­ners, and a two-out sin­gle by Frank drove in both runs.

The Dodgers ex­tended their lead to 6-0 in the fourth in­ning on an EBI sin­gle by Rob Levine, a two-run dou­ble by Ranoc­chia and a sacri­fice fly by Scott Sim­mons.

“When you’re as old as we are, you look for­ward to play­ing ball,” said Ranoc­chia, 58. “I thought there was no way we’d play this sea­son, but we’re lucky to get a half-sea­son in.

“It al­ways feels good to wake up on a Sun­day morn­ing and head to the ball field.”


Dave Hooper of the Rays tosses the ball to Josh La­mont for a force at sec­ond base.


Mark Killingsta­d of the Dodgers slides un­der the throw to Rays catcher Don­nie Hobbs dur­ing the Over-40 game on Sun­day.


Tony Ranoc­chia swings into what would be­come a two-run dou­ble to give the Dodgers a 5-0 lead over the Rays.

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