Caroline sweeps through state tournament
Will represent Maryland at regionals in Freehold, NJ
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.
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.
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.