Monroe eliminates Chesapeake from tournament
Scrappy ’Jacks erase seven-run deficit, but can’t put away New York team
ARNOLD After two days off, the hitters certainly looked well rested when Chesapeake College and Monroe College resumed their NJCAA Division I Region XX baseball tournament game Tuesday at Anne Arundel Community College.
Chesapeake overcame a seven-run deficit, tying the game with two runs in the top of the eighth, but the Mustangs answered with four runs in the bottom half of the inning to regain control on the way to a 13-9 victory.
The win moved Monroe (25-11) into Wednesday’s losers’ bracket final in the double-elimination tournament. Chesapeake finished the year with a 32-17-1 record, the fourth straight season the Skipjacks have won 30 or more games.
"I have to take my hat off to Monroe’s players and coaches," said Chesapeake head coach Frank Szymanski. "They’ve been in town since last Thursday waiting to play. They’re an excellent team really fundamentally sound and well-coached."
Szymanski also praised his team, which faced a 9-2 deficit after four innings.
"We had a great comeback," said Szymanski. "We were down and could have been put away for good, but we refused to give up. We played hard all year long and never quit, especially today."
Monroe banged out 15 hits as Fabian Valdes (four runs scored) and Jose Macias (three RBI) each went 4-for-5. Luis Caceres was 3-for-5 and drove in five runs for the Mustangs.
Monroe built a 2-0, first-inning lead Sunday before the rains came, but Chesapeake started play Tuesday by scoring twice in the second inning to tie the game. Monroe starting pitcher Joel Sanchez walked two batters and hit another to set up a two-run single by Mike Liddell (2-for-5).
Valdes led off the home third with a single, stole second and scored on a Macias single to give Monroe a 3-2 lead. Macias and Caceres each had two-run singles during a six-run fourth that knocked out Chesapeake starter Kurt Bruce and seemingly KO’d the Skipjacks as well.
Instead, Chesapeake mounted an impressive comeback. Bryan Woolford had a run-scoring single and J.V. Herbert contributed an RBI groundout in a two-run fifth that pulled the Skipjacks within 9-4. J.T. Gregory’s three-run, sixth-inning double off Mustang reliever Jonathan Gonzalez cut Monroe’s lead to 9-7.
Meanwhile, Chesapeake pitcher Ben Newport who relieved Bruce in the fourth was keeping the Skipjacks in the game.
"Ben came in and settled everything down," said Szymanski. "He got us out of the fourth and then threw three shutout innings when we absolutely needed it."
The Skipjacks finally drew even in the eighth as singles by Tony Mitchell (3-for-5, double) and Liddell preceded a two-run double by Gregory (3-for-5, three doubles, five RBI) that created a 9-9 deadlock with no outs. Chesapeake, however, couldn’t push across the go-ahead run as Woolford struck out, Andrew Markey popped out, and Herbert grounded out.
Newport, who had been near-perfect since the fourth, walked Omar Hernandez to start the bottom of the eighth.
Valdes then singled and Macias bunted down the third-base line for a hit to load the bases. Benny Negron then delivered what proved to be the game-winning hit, a two-run single that made it 11-9. One out later, Caceres plated two more insurance runs with a single.
Gonzalez was the winning pitcher, allowing four hits and two walks with three strikeouts over four innings. Newport took the loss, giving up two hits and a walk over 3 1/3 innings.
While the loss was disappointing, Szymanski said his players accomplished quite a bit in a season that really started last August with the summer practices leading up to the fall season.
"I’m grateful that the players made the commitment to the college," said Szymanski, who finished up his ninth year as head coach. "We had some outstanding students who really worked hard and dedicated themselves to the academics as well as the athletics. They can be proud I know I’m proud of them."
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