Skipjacks rally to keep pace in league race
Chesapeake, Anne Arundel remain conference’s only one-loss teams
WYE MILLS When it comes to the conference baseball race, Chesapeake College head coach Frank Szymanski has tunnel vision.
"We’re not looking ahead. We always consider the next game the most important game of the season," said Szymanski after the Skipjacks rallied from a 7-4 deficit to beat Community College Baltimore County-Essex, 11-7, Tuesday afternoon. "We really are taking them one game at a time."
The Skipjacks (20-8 overall, 7-1 Maryland JuCo) used Tuesday’s win to reach 20 victories for the sixth time in Szymanski’s eight years as head coach. More importantly, the win kept the pressure on first-place Anne Arundel Community College (16-13, 10-1). Anne Arundel a 9-5 loser to Delaware Tech Tuesday in a non-conference game and Chesapeake are the only two remaining one-loss teams in the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference.
"It’s exciting, and it’s a tribute to the players," Szymanski said of the Skipjacks’ position in the league standings. "They’re the ones out there practicing every day, playing hard, going to class, studying putting it all together. It’s great for them.
The Skipjacks are the first team in the state to reach 20 wins overall and have the best overall winning percentage (.714) in the state.
"We definitely feel good about our team and the progress we’re making," added Szymanski. "The boys are working very hard."
Chesapeake had a lot of work to do Tuesday after the visiting Knights used a six-run fifth inning to take a 7-4 lead. Essex scored all six runs with two outs against starter Justin Sousa, who was then replaced by Kurt Bruce.
Bruce blanked the Knights over the last 4 1/3 innings on just one hit and two walks while striking out four.
"Kurt came in throwing strikes," said Szymanski. "He had very good velocity and was able to get his off-speed pitches over. His effort really lifted the team."
The Skipjacks drew even with a three-run rally of their own in the home fifth as Bryan Woolford hit a two-run homer and Chris Cirillo added a game-tying, RBI single that finished off Essex starting pitcher Kenny Blackwell. Chesapeake took the lead for good on Brad Brainer’s run-scoring single off Essex reliever Ross Podbielski in the sixth, and Eddie West drove in a seventh-inning run with a double that made it 9-7.
Chesapeake broke the game open with a two-run eighth. J.T. Gregory had a run-scoring single and Cirillo drove in another run with a sacrifice fly.
West (two doubles, triple, three RBI) and Kellen Shepard each went 3-for-4 to lead Chesapeake’s 17-hit attack. Four other Skipjacks Cody Holliday (two runs, stolen base), J.V. Herbert (homer, two RBI), Brainer (RBI, three stolen bases), and Gregory (RBI) had two hits apiece.
While Essex (7-12, 2-5) is struggling, Szymanski was pleased with how the Skipjacks responded to their 7-4 deficit.
"I was happy with the effort," said Szymanski, whose team broke a two-game losing streak. "We were resilient."
The Skipjacks are scheduled to host Montgomery College Rockville (5-18, 1-10) Thursday in a 1 p.m. doubleheader and host Cecil Community College (13-12, 5-6) Saturday in a noon doubleheader. Anne Arundel plays at Hagerstown Community College (17-12, 8-3) Thursday in a game with major implications for the state title chase.
Notes: Brainer leads the conference with 23 stolen bases. He is the only player among the top five base-stealers who has not been caught stealing at least once this season.
Maryland JuCo Baseball Standings Top 5
|Current as of April 11, 2007|
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