Caro­line tops Tal­bot for dis­trict crown

Curler hit­less through six, Brown gets save as Hayes notches fifth ti­tle

Times-Record - - Front Page - By DAVID INSLEY dins­ley@star­

HURLOCK — Chris Curler car­ried a no-hit shutout into the sev­enth in­ning, and J.B. Brown earned the save Mon­day night, as the Caro­line County Ju­nior League all-star base­ball team won its fourth Dis­trict 6 ti­tle in seven sea­sons with a 5-3 vic­tor y over Tal­bot.

HURLOCK — Chris Curler car­ried a no-hit shutout into the sev­enth in­ning, and J.B. Brown earned the save Mon­day night, as the Caro­line County Ju­nior League all-star base­ball team won its fourth Dis­trict 6 ti­tle in seven sea­sons with a 5-3 vic­tor y over Tal­bot.

The win avenged Sun­day’s 7-2 de­feat to the loss­bracket champs, as Caro­line im­proved to 3-1 in the post­sea­son, giv­ing man­ager Lou Hayes his fifth dis­trict ti­tle.

“This was just a great game,” Hayes said. “Just some­one had to lose in the end.”

Caro­line scored two runs in the bot­tom of the first. With one out, P.J. Gun­ther sin­gled, and Brown dou­bled him home. Jay­den Watkins sin­gled two bat­ters later to score Brown be­fore Tal­bot starter Jeremy Patch­ett stopped the rally with an in­ning-end­ing ground out.

Caro­line added a run in the sec­ond when Jeremy Bed­ford dou­bled and scored on Gun­ther’s in­field sin­gle. The win-bracket champs added an­other run in the fourth, when Gun­ther beat out an in­field sin­gle and scored on a bases-loaded walk to Nate Haschen.

It was 5-0 af­ter six thanks to Brown’s sin­gle, a steal, and a bases-loaded walk to Jadon Rowan.

Curler mowed down the Tal­bot bat­ters, pitch­ing a per­fect first three in­nings. Tal­bot’s 10th batter of the game, Cade Jones, reached on an er­ror on a hard-hit ball to third, to be­gin the top of the fourth. But that was Tal­bot’s only base run­ner un­til the sev­enth.

Curler, who threw 93 pitches, strik­ing out four, said his best pitch was “my team.”

“Without my team I wouldn’t have had any­thing,” Curler said. “And pitch­ing with a lead, it’s a lot more com­fort­able than pitch­ing from be­hind, or even tied. It’s a stress re­liever.”

Tal­bot gave Caro­line some stress, though, in the top of the sev­enth. Curler is­sued a lead­off walk to Jaylin Jones. Af­ter a strike­out, a passed ball moved Tal­bot’s sec­ond base run­ner into scor­ing po­si­tion. He scored a mo­ment later on Jack­son Cro­nan’s sin­gle to right field.

Cro­nan made sec­ond on the throw home, took third on an er­rant throw, and scored on Patch­ett’s ground out to Brown, who played short un­til fac­ing the game’s last batter.

Curler be­gan to tire, hit­ting Ryan Smith with a pitch and walk­ing Tae Gowe. Hayes brought Gun­ther on in re­lief, but Cody Fair­bank and Trevor McGowan each walked, the sec­ond free pass scor­ing Smith to pull Tal­bot within 5-2 and keep­ing the bases juiced.

Hayes then went to Brown, who iced his sore throw­ing arm be­fore the game, but was busy at short, notch­ing five as­sists and four putouts be­fore mov­ing to the mound. But five pitches was all it took, Brown pop­ping up the first batter he faced and catch­ing it to se­cure the ti­tle.

“For­get the pain with my shoul­der, and just get the out,” Brown said of the pres­sure sit­u­a­tion.

“This is my first dis­trict ti­tle,” Brown said. “It feels good . ... We’ve just got to carry the mo­men­tum into states.”

For Curler it was “my first [cham­pi­onship], too,” said the Caro­line starter who, along with Brown and other

team­mates, made the dis­trict cham­pi­onship in 2015 at the 11-12 level, but lost to South Caro­line — which in­cluded Haschen, who’s now a ju­nior league team­mate.

“It’s a great feel­ing,” Curler said. “I just hope we can con­tinue on with it.”

For Tal­bot man­ager Bren­dan Plutschak, while the out­come wasn’t what he hoped for, it was “only fit­ting that we’d play Lou.

“We’ve got so much his­tory,” said Plutschak, who an­nounced af­ter­ward this would be his last game af­ter nearly a decade of coach­ing at var­i­ous lev­els of Lit­tle League. “Lou and I have had so many games against each other . ... And ev­ery year for the past seven years now, it’s been one of our two teams to win the dis­tricts.”

“I couldn’t have asked for a bet­ter bunch of kids this year,” said Plutschak, whose team fin­ished 3-2. “We hit the ball right at peo­ple a lot tonight; that hap­pens. It seemed like we hit ev­ery ball al­most at their best de­fen­sive player, J.B. It seemed like ev­ery time we hit it, he got it.

“I told them com­ing into the sev­enth, ‘you’ve just got to find some holes,” Plutschak said. “And they found a cou­ple. They fought. They never quit. They’re good play­ers . ... Caro­line’s got a great team, too. It was great to see this game, to be a part of it.”

Caro­line has taken the 2011, 2014, 2015, and this year’s ti­tle, while Tal­bot won it in 2012, 2013, and last year. Tal­bot’s 2013 team also won the state ti­tle, do­ing so in Ris­ing Sun, where Caro­line is sched­uled to play its first state-tour­na­ment game Satur­day at 4 p.m.

“I’m go­ing to miss this a lot,” Plutschak said. “But I’ll still be around, with high school ball. I’m not done with every­thing.”

Hayes, who’s coached for 29 years now, and is in his 19th sea­son with Ju­nior League, tipped his cap, so to speak, over Tal­bot’s ef­forts in the fi­nal in­ning.

“You can’t take a thing away from Tal­bot,” Hayes said. “We played three great games against them. We beat them in the win-bracket game [Thurs­day], and they beat us last night. And then this one was 5-3. Just a great game.

“Tal­bot’s a great team, top and bot­tom; they hus­tled, they bat­tled,” Hayes said. “They’re well-coached. It was just a great ju­nior league game.”


The Caro­line Ju­nior League base­ball all-stars cel­e­brate their 2017 crown, earned with a 5-3 win over Tal­bot in Mon­day’s win­ner-take-all cham­pi­onship in Hurlock.

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