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Sunday is fun day for Skipjacks
Chesapeake sweeps Cecil, moves into first place in state

NORTH EAST – Sunday was a fun day to be a Skipjack.

Chesapeake College’s baseball team swept host Cecil College, 9-4 and 6-1, as the Skipjacks (20-7 overall, 12-3 league) moved into first place at the midpoint of the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference season. Chesapeake also reached 20 wins for the eighth time in Frank Szymanski’s 10 years as head coach.

"I’m just happy with the way we’re playing," said Szymanski, whose team has won four straight games. "The guys are playing extremely hard and they’re focused."

Chesapeake is involved in a state title race every bit as crazy as last year’s championship chase, which wasn’t decided until the last day of the season. The Skipjacks are battling Allegany College (24-8, 13-5), Anne Arundel Community College (19-9, 8-4), CCBC-Dundalk (15-11, 8-4), Hagerstown Community College (23-8, 7-4), and Montgomery College Germantown (13-8, 6-4) for this year’s championship.

"One of our goals in the beginning of the year was to play meaningful games in May," said Szymanski, whose team is coming closer and closer to that goal. "We’ve got to stay focused and stay hungry."

Chesapeake won Sunday’s opener with a four-run sixth inning that broke a 4-4 tie. Jesse Savage reached on an error, Chris Bell singled and both came home on Mathieu Vallieres’ three-run homer off Cecil reliever Lee Croft. Mike Liddell then hit Croft’s next pitch for a solo shot.

Cecil led, 3-1, until the Skipjacks pieced together a three-run fifth inning built around Chris Bodnar’s two-out, two-run single that finished off Seahawks starter Jimmy Brooks. Mike Turner then greeted Croft with an RBI single that gave Chesapeake a 4-3 lead.

"They came through in the clutch," said Szymanski, whose team finished with 13 hits in Game 1. "That’s what it’s all about – getting the timely hits when you need them."

Cecil tied the game on Chris Baldini’s solo homer leading off the fifth inning against Skipjack starter Jake Garvey. One batter later, Garvey was replaced by reliever Ryan Staton, who allowed one hit and one walk with two strikeouts over the final three innings while improving to 3-0.

Vallieres, Liddell, Turner, Cory Kirby and Chris Bell each had two hits for the Skipjacks in Game 1.

Chesapeake broke on top in Game 2 with a pair of first-inning runs as Liddell and Bodnar singled home runs. The Skipjacks added single runs in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings to methodically pull away.

Every starter had a hit in Game 2, with Vallieres going 2-for-4 with two runs to lead the way.

Rob Karwacki earned the Game 2 victory, allowing one run on seven hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. Ben Newport finished with 2 2/3 innings of no-hit relief.

"Our pitchers did a great job today throwing strikes, keeping the defense in the game," said Szymanski. "The pitching has been very effective and we had two more outstanding defensive games."

Losing pitcher Zach Williams went five innings and allowed the Skipjacks’ first five runs.

The Skipjacks host Montgomery College/Rockville Tuesday at 3 p.m.

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