Caroline captures Legion baseball title
— The end came quickly with a lightening strike spotted in the distance. But the thunder came in Caroline Post 29’s six-run third-inning outburst.
Jaret Price went the distance on the mound and Caroline captured the Eastern Shore American Legion Baseball championship Friday night, July 27, with a 14-4 victory over Dorchester Post 91 at J. Edward Walter Jr. Park.
Price had closed out last year’s championship game in relief playing for a team combined of Caroline and Talbot County players. This year it was all Caroline and its third-inning outburst was plenty for the hardthrowing right-hander.
Caroline only dressed nine players, but eight of them scored, including three runs by leadoff hitter Tyler Stanley, who reached base on all five of his plate appearances.
Nathan Roth knocked in three runs and Garrett Nepert plated two for Caroline, which had won the opener of the best-of-three series, 3-2, Thursday evening at Colonel Richardson High.
“Pitching and defense again. We hit the ball when we needed to tonight,” Post 29 manager Ryan Blanchfield said. They (Dorchester) hit the ball. They just ran out of pitching. That was the downfall of it for them. But hey, they’re a solid team. Frankie (Whirley, Post 91 manager) has done a great job. I give him a lot of credit. He does everything right. It was good to be playing against them because they deserved it.”
Caroline advanced to the championship series with a 2-1 series win over Talbot while Dorchester advanced with a 2-1 series win over Somerset.
By virtue of its league championship, Post 29 advances to the Maryland State Tournament that is scheduled to begin Tuesday at the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex in Salisbur y.
Stanley walked and stole second to open Friday’s game. He took third on an error and scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Nepert to make it 1-0.
Dorchester opened the home first with three straight singles to tie the game at 1-1. Shamar Young singled up the middle and Tyler Harding singled to left. Zach Revel then lined a base hit up the middle to knock in Young, who was running on the pitch. Post 29 then turned a double play and Max Presley lined out to keep the game tied.
Dorchester took a 2-1 lead when Clint Meekins singled and Logan Middleton doubled him home in the bottom of the second.
Caroline then produced its decisive third off Dorchester starter Ben Johnson. Matt Willoughby started it with a ground single to right. Stanley walked and Morgan Loetz crushed a liner up the middle to load the bases. Nepert walked to force in a run. With one out, Roth lined a two-run single to left for a 4-1 lead. With two outs, Price singled to load the bases again and Ryleek Acree walked to force in Nepert. Willoughby also walked to force in a run and Stanley hit a liner to left to make it 7-2.
Dorchester stayed in the game with two runs in the fourth to cut Caroline’s lead 7-4. Meekins and Middleton walked with two outs. Young looped an RBI single to center and Middleton scored on a wild pitch. Young was thrown out trying to steal home on a close play at the plate to end the inning.
Caroline countered with single runs in the fifth and sixth, before blowing the game open in the seventh. Acree reached base on an error and later scored on another error in the fifth to make it 8-4. Roth singled in the sixth and scored on Acree’s sacrifice fly for a 9-4 lead.
Three Post 91 relievers surrendered seven walks in the seventh and five of those runners crossed the plate before play ended due to lightening.
Price was all the pitching Post 29 needed.
“Price has been solid all year, threw the ball exceptionally well,” Blanchfield said. “He had a great year at Chesapeake College this year and I look for him to do good things in the future for them. He’s been our go-to all year. He’s a big-gamer. He won the game last year for us against Wicomico in the ‘if’ game that Saturday.
“It feels good to go backto-back,” Blanchfield added. “I’m proud of these guys. All my returners, I’m happy for them. They’ve been faithful to me. It’s been fun. To say the least, it’s been fun.”
Caroline Post 29 manager Ryan Blanchfield receives the Eastern Shore American Legion Baseball championship trophy from league commissioner Rusty Smith on Friday night at J. Edward Walter Jr. Park in Cambridge. Also pictured are coach John Buchanan,...
Caroline Post 29’s Jaret Price delivers a pitch against Dorchester Post 91 on Friday evening at J. Edward Walter Jr. Park in Cambridge.