Western Charles claims CHASM baseball ti­tle

Team claims se­cond CHASM baseball ti­tle in last three years

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

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.”

STAFF PHOTO BY TED BLACK

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.

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