Over-40 League Astros off to strong start with ti­tle in their sights

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

The Astros stormed through the East­ern Bal­ti­more County Over-40 Base­ball League last sea­son, un­til they were stunned in the league cham­pi­onship game by a Cubs team they had al­ready beaten twice dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son.

Winning their first two games by a com­bined score of 23-7, the Astros are off to an­other strong start. This time, the Cubs aren’t around to stop them.

The Cubs opted to take the sea­son off when the COVID-19 pan­demic de­layed the start of the reg­u­lar from April to last week ands re­duced the reg­u­lar sea­son to just six games.

The likely play­off for­mat will have all seven teams ad­vanc­ing to the post­sea­son and seeded based on reg­u­lar-sea­son record, with the top seed get­ting a bye and a play-in game be­tween the sixth and sev­enth seeds.

(This is sub­ject change.)

The Astros took ad­van­tage of two bad in­nings by the Di­a­mond­backs for a lop­sided 14-3 win on Sun­day at St. He­lena Park.

Five runs in the third in­ning gave the Astros a 7-1 lead, and five more runs in the sixth in­ning es­sen­tially put the game away.

In both in­nings, the Di­a­mond­backs (0-2) gave and the Astros ex­ploited.

Joe LoBianco led off the bot­tom of the the third with a pop sin­gle to left, and Don Smith fol­lowed with a bloop to sin­gle to shal­low right.

A throw­ing er­ror al­lowed a run to score.

Af­ter a fly­out, Jerry Gastiger hit a grounder to short­stop. The Di­a­mond­backs at­tempted to get the run­ner ad­vanc­ing to third rather than try for Gastiger at first, but he was safe af­ter a run­down.

Doug Ka­line then drove in a run with a sin­gle to left, and Sean Ses­ney added an RBI sin­gle to right.

Jim Cun­diff drove in a run with a fielder’s choice to short­stop with the bases loaded, and LoBianco drove in a run with a sin­gle to right be­fore the in­ning ended.

Still lead­ing 7-2 in the sixth in­ning, the Astros put up five un­earned runs to make it 12-2.

Two in­field er­rors kept the in­ning from end­ing af­ter five bat­ters. In­stead, the bases were loaded with one out and one run in.

Corey Ran­dolph drove in a run with a ground­out to first, LoBianco smacked a two-run dou­ble to deep right, and the fi­nal run of the in­ning scored on an­other in­field er­ror.

“We didn’t have any chance to work to­gether be­fore the sea­son started,” Di­a­mond­backs man­ager Rob Lee said. “But I still think we’re a team that can make a run in the play­offs.

“This team has been to­gether for a bit now. We were added to the league in the sec­ond sea­son [2011] so we have some­what of a broth­er­hood. We en­joy play­ing to­gether on Sun­days, and al­though the past few years we haven’t played as well, we still en­joy see­ing each other and we love play­ing.”

Lee, the first bat­ter of the game, sin­gled and came around to score on a ground­out to give the Di­a­mond­backs a quick1-0 lead.

But Cun­diff, the Astros starter and man­ager, re­tired 12 of 13 bat­ters at one point in the first though fourth in­nings. At one point, Cun­diff fanned five of six bat­ters.

Jim Hooper led off the Di­a­mond­back fifth with a sin­gle and an in­field er­ror with two outs kept the in­ning alive.

Tim Brownell came through with an RBI sin­gle, but the next bat­ter popped out to Cun­diff.

The Di­a­mond­backs put two run­ners on with a walk and in­field sin­gle in the sixth, but Cun­diff got out of the in­ning with a ground­out.

Cun­diff struck out eight in six in­nings and gave up four hits.

In the sev­enth, trail­ing 122, the Di­a­mond­backs loaded the bases with no outs. But they were only able to get one run out of it, on Lee’s ground­out.

In Sun­day’s other game, the Rays (2-0) de­feated the Ori­oles (1-1) 12-5 at the Le­gion Post 38 Field.

The Dodgers- Roy­als game was post­poned.

This week, the Car­di­nals (0-1) play the Rays at Post 38; the Di­a­mond­backs play the Ori­oles (0-1) at Pat­ap­sco High; and the Astros play the Roy­als (1-0) at St. He­lena Park.

PHO­TOS BY BILL GATES

Corey Ran­dolph slides into third base as Mike Young moves to cut off the re­lay throw.

Chad Farmer slides into third un­der the tag by Astros third base­man Sean Ses­ney.

Rob Lee scam­pers back to first as Doug Ka­line snags a throw at­tempt­ing to dou­ble off Lee.

Jim Cun­diff of the Astros con­nects for a sin­gle. Cun­diff pitched the first six in­nings and struck out eight while giv­ing up four hits.

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