Western Charles beats Black Sox in CHASM playoffs
Teams return for final game Saturday to decide CHASM title
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.”
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.