Rain ruling Region XX tournament
Skipjacks drop opener, face 2-0 deficit in second game
HANOVER So far, the dominant force in the Region XX tournament is Mother Nature.
After two days of rainouts, two games were completed and a third started Sunday before the rain once again took over in the NJCAA Division I Region XX baseball tournament at Joe Cannon Stadium. Fourth-seeded Chesapeake College dropped a 6-2 decision to top-seeded Potomac State College and trailed third-seeded Monroe College, 2-0, in the second inning of its second game when it was suspended by heavy rain.
"This is the biggest impact I’ve seen rain have on a regional tournament," said Chesapeake head coach Frank Szymanski. "The one thing you definitely can’t control is the weather."
Second-seeded Hagerstown Community College scored twice in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat Monroe, 5-4, in the opening game of the double-elimination tournament. The winners’ bracket final between Potomac State and Hagerstown, scheduled to be played after the Chesapeake-Monroe contest, was postponed.
Tournament officials tentatively plan to resume the tournament Monday, but weather forecasts indicate the rain may continue throughout Monday. The tournament site may be switched to Anne Arundel Community College, where the field can take more rain, but no final determination will be made before Monday morning.
When the tournament resumes, the Skipjacks (32-16-1) will face a must-win situation thanks to the loss to Potomac State. Matt Schrader hit a two-run, first-inning homer off Chesapeake starter Chris Custer and the Catamounts broke the game open with a four-run sixth inning.
In between Custer matched PSC ace Andy Altemus pitch-for-pitch. In fact, Custer held the Catamounts (36-8) hitless from the second through the fifth.
"Chris showed a lot of courage and a lot of character," Szymanski said of Custer, who allowed six hits and four walks with two strikeouts in five-plus innings. "He kept us in the game. Even in the sixth, he was still throwing well. We didn’t execute defensively in the sixth, but he never got rattled."
Kyle Orensky (2-2, two runs) opened the home sixth by blooping a hit into short right field. Skipjack third baseman J.V. Herbert then booted a grounder by Schrader. Two passed balls by catcher Derek Richards allowed Orensky to score, making it 3-0, at which point Szymanski replaced Custer with reliever Evan Ford.
Schrader scored on a Ford wild pitch to make it 4-0, and Jacke Healey climaxed the rally with a two-run single that made it 6-0.
The Skipjacks spoiled Altemus’ shutout in the ninth as J.T. Gregory singled, went to third on Bryan Woolford’s double, and scored on Andrew Markey’s sacrifice fly. Woolford scored the game’s final run on an error.
Altemus (6-2) spaced eight hits in his complete-game victory, striking out six and walking two.
"Potomac State played very well defensively and Altemus pitched a nice game," said Szymanski.
Ford allowed three hits over three innings, striking out three and walking one in relief of Custer.
In the Skipjacks’ second game, Monroe scored twice in the bottom of the first inning to take a quick lead. Fabian Valdez led off with a single and took off for second on a perfectly executed run-and-hit. Jose Macias sent a single into the hole created by second baseman Woolford going to cover the second-base bag, and Valdez went to third on the play.
Valdez scored on a wild pitch by Chesapeake starting pitcher Kurt Bruce, and Macias came home on a bloop hit to right by Luis Caceres.
Herbert walked to lead off the top of the second, at which point the game was suspended due to rain.
The Skipjacks would need four straight victories, starting with a comeback against Monroe, in order to win their second regional crown in four years.
"We’re two runs down already. We have to put something together offensively," said Szymanski.
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