Western Charles claims CHASM baseball title
Team claims second CHASM baseball title in last three years
After being sent to the losers’ bracket by the Black Sox during the opening round of the Coors CharlesSt. Mary’s Baseball League double-elimination playoffs, Western Charles faced a genuine uphill battle in its quest to claim its second title in three years.
Then when the two teams met one week ago, Western Charles rallied from a 3-0 deficit for a 4-3 victory courtesy of a stellar pitching performance from Zach O’Dell to force the proverbial “if” game this past Saturday afternoon. Fittingly, the Black Sox would forge an early 4-0 lead against veteran Western Charles hurler Bill DeAtley and once again Western Charles had an answer.
In a genuine see-saw battle on Saturday afternoon
at Rainbow Construction Field in La Plata, Western Charles (21-9 overall) rallied from the early hole for a 10-6 lead and eventually outlasted the Black Sox for an 11-9 victory to claim its second title in three seasons and fourth in the nine years that manager Tony Stefko has been the club’s skipper.
After being knocked around early, DeAtley eventually earned the victory by allowing nine runs (7 earned) over 7 1/3 innings of work and reliever Kurt Bruce held the Black Sox scoreless for the final 1 2/3 innings to earn the save. Black Sox reliever and McDonough High School senior Austin Simms suffered a tough-luck setback, allowing six runs, of which only two were earned.
“Early on, I was not getting my curveball over and they made good contact,” said DeAtley, one week after he moved from White Plains to Waldorf. “Their 2-3-4 hitters really had my number today. I just couldn’t get those guys out. A lot of it was not getting ahead in the count, but they hit
the ball hard.”
The Black Sox (18-11) scored two runs on four hits in the top of the first and added two more runs on four hits in the second, one in which the visitors left the bases loaded. Western Charles got three runs in the bottom of the second, two on a double by Pat Mahoney and it took the lead in the bottom of the third on a solo home run by Chris Blondin.
DeAtley, however, never had an answer for Black Sox cleanup hitter Erving Nazario, who went 5 for 5 with a pair of home runs, drove in five runs and scored three more. His solo homer in the fourth tied it and later his two-run homer in the eighth brought the Black Sox within 10-8. A wild pitch by Bruce enabled the Black Sox to get within a run that inning.
“I thought I was swinging the bat pretty good today,” said Nazario, currently enrolled in the police academy looking to land a full-time position in Prince George’s County. “I was just looking for good pitches to hit and drive somewhere. What helped was me getting ahead in the count and getting some favorable pitches to hit.”
Much of the outcome,
however, hinged on routine plays the Black Sox could not make. Western Charles took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth by scoring three unearned runs on one hit against Simms, who was simply betrayed by his infielders. Catcher Billy Hennessey had one throwing error and Nazario had another. A sacrifice fly by Mahoney lifted Western Charles to an 8-5 lead.
“That’s baseball,” Simms said. “We had some mistakes today, but they also hit the ball well in the late innings. Our guys never gave up. Even when we were down [10-6], we kept battling. When Erving hit that home run in the eighth it looked like we had all the momentum.”
Nazario’s two-run shot in the eighth off DeAtley capped a five-hit performance and brought the Black Sox within striking distance and Bruce uncorked a wild pitch that enabled the visitors to get within a run. But Western Charles first baseman Ricky Brady gave Bruce some breathing room heading to the final frame when he belted a solo shot to right-center off Simms for an 11-9 lead.
“All season long other teams have been looking
to get me on changeups,” Brady said. “That’s all that I’ve seen, so that last at-bat I was looking for a change-up and got ahold of it. But all of the guys did so many things well today. Bill pitched well. He just kept battling. The whole team kept battling.”
Staked to a two-run lead, Bruce headed to the mound for the ninth with a little cushion and he promptly retired the side in order on just 10 pitches, getting Black Sox leadoff batter Tyler Croson to fly out to right for the final out. Bruce had warmed up five innings before being summoned into the game and earned the save that sealed the verdict.
“I started to get warmed up during the third inning and I think that just got Bill angry,” said Bruce, a Lusby resident who works in St. Mary’s County. “Then Bill settled down and pitched great through the middle innings, so I didn’t think I was coming in. I bounced that first pitch [in the eighth], but after that I just focused on pounding the strike zone and getting ahead of the hitters.”
Black Sox left fielder Ryan Kesecker went 4 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored and calmly summarized
the events that led to his team’s demise in the middle innings.
“When you haven’t been in these types of situations before, big plays in big games get tougher to make,” Kesecker said. “Our inexperience showed in those situations. Western Charles has been here plenty of times before, so they made the routine plays and took advantage of our mistakes. But we’re a young team and we’ll learn from it and move on to next season.”
Western Charles players celebrate after defeating the Black Sox on Saturday afternoon in the Coors Charles-St. Mary’s Baseball League championship game, 11-9, at Rainbow Construction Field in La Plata.