Caro­line sweeps through state tournament

Will rep­re­sent Mary­land at re­gion­als in Free­hold, NJ

Times-Record - - SPORTS - By CHRIS KNAUSS ck­nauss@stardem.com

HURLOCK — All’s well that ends well … and starts well.

Caro­line’s first six bat­ters reached base in the first in­ning Fri­day even­ing, and five of them scored, on the way to a 13-3, mer­cyrule vic­tory over Ris­ing Sun in the Mary­land Ju­nior League Base­ball state cham­pi­onship game.

Caro­line stroked 12 hits, in­clud­ing five extra-base hits, off three Ris­ing Sun pitch­ers to end the cham­pi­onship game in five in­nings. Cr ys­tian Brewer’s triple to right field knocked in Cameron Gon­deck, who had also tripled, for the 10-run mar­gin with two outs in the bot­tom of the fifth.

L.B. Thomp­son knocked in four runs and Hunter Wolfe plated three, as Caro­line com­pleted a three-game sweep through the seven-team, dou­ble-elim­i­na­tion tournament.

“I feel great,” Caro­line man­ager Lou Hayes said. “Been a long time. Good teams, al­ways had good teams. This team, I knew tonight in the dugout, they were just ready. They were ready to come and play the game.” It was Hayes’ first state cham­pi­onship af­ter many undis­closed years as a coach.

Caro­line left-han­der Kyle Speas pitched all five in­nings for the win, al­low­ing three runs on six hits and five walks. He kept his com­po­sure af­ter al­low­ing two hits and three walks in the sec­ond in­ning and left three run­ners stranded by get­ting a force out at the plate and a foul pop for the fi­nal two outs.

“I can’t say enough about Speas pitch­ing,” Hayes said. “He came back and pitched the game he was ca­pa­ble of. And he told me be­fore the game, he said, ‘I want to pitch.’”

Jeremy Bed­ford walked, stole sec­ond and third, and scored on a sin­gle up the mid­dle by Jay­den Watkins to open the game’s scor­ing in the bot­tom of the first. Watkins and Kyle Hof­mann, who was hit by a pitch from Ris­ing Sun starter

Matthew Trout, then scored on a triple to right by Thomp­son for a 3-0 lead.

Wolfe kept the bats boom­ing with a line-drive sin­gle up the mid­dle to plate Thomp­son. Wolfe then came home on a triple to right by Tan­ner Young to make it 5-0. Daniel Tserkis re­lieved Trout on the mound and kept Caro­line score­less the rest of the in­ning.

Ris­ing Sun an­swered with its best at­tack in the top of the sec­ond.

Trout sin­gled up the mid­dle, Seth Mor­ris walked, and An­drew Du­vall flared a sin­gle into shal­low left to load the bases. Jonathan Stan­ley then drew a walk to force home Trout. Mor­ris scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Cole DeRosa to make it 5-2. But, af­ter walk­ing another bat­ter, Speas re­tired the next two bat­ters.

Scor­ing in ev­ery in­ning, Caro­line added two runs in the sec­ond, three in the third, two in the fourth, and one in the fifth.

“We can hit. We can hit, we can run, and we can play de­fense,” Hayes said. “I can’t ask for more. These boys won the state ti­tle. I just hap­pened to be along for the ride.”

Watkins dou­bled and took third on a wild pitch when Thomp­son walked. Thomp­son stole sec­ond un­con­tested. Wolfe fol­lowed with a two-run liner to right to make it 7-2.

Bed­ford sin­gled and Hof­mann was hit by a pitch to open the home third. Watkins fol­lowed with an RBIs­in­gle. He stole sec­ond and crossed the plate via a tworun base hit by Thomp­son to make it 10-2.

Zack Rob­bins was hit by a pitch from re­liever Du­vall in the fourth. He stole sec­ond and scored on a hit to right by Speas and an out­field er­ror. Speas later came home on a throw­ing er­ror af­ter a ground ball off the bat of Hof­mann to make it 12-2.

Ris­ing Sun de­layed the mercy-rule set­back by scor­ing their fi­nal run in the top of the fifth. Hay­den Spi­och blasted a triple to cen­ter and scored on a one-out sin­gle to left by Josh Cage to make it 12-3.

Trout suf­fered the loss on the mound, al­low­ing five runs on four hits, a walk, and a hit-bat­ter. Tserkis al­lowed five runs on five hits, three walks, and two hit-bat­ters in two in­nings of work. Du­vall gave up three runs (one earned) on three hits and a hit-bat­ter.

Caro­line will now rep­re­sent Mary­land at the Ju­nior League East­ern Re­gional Tournament in Free­hold, New Jer­sey. The tournament be­gins Thurs­day, Au­gust 2. Mary­land has a first-round bye and will open play on Fri­day at 4 p.m. against the win­ner of the Delaware-Con­necti­cut game. The win­ner of the dou­ble-elim­i­na­tion tournament ad­vances to the World Se­ries in Tay­lor, Michi­gan.

PHOTO BY CHRIS KNAUSS

Caro­line Ju­nior League all-stars and coaches with their state cham­pi­onship ban­ner Fri­day even­ing in Hurlock.

Caro­line man­ager Lou Hayes talks to his play­ers dur­ing a break in the ac­tion against Ris­ing Sun in the Mary­land Ju­nior League Base­ball state cham­pi­onship game Fri­day even­ing in Hurlock.

PHOTOS BY CHRIS KNAUSS

Caro­line’s Jeremy Bed­ford steals third base dur­ing the first in­ning against Ris­ing Sun in the Mary­land Ju­nior League Base­ball state cham­pi­onship game Fri­day even­ing in Hurlock.

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