Skipjacks down PSC, stay in first place in Region XX
Victory completes sweep of traditionally strong Catamounts
WYE MILLS Potomac State College has won more than 30 games each baseball season since the turn of the century. That alone makes Chesapeake’s 8-3 win over the visiting Catamounts Sunday afternoon noteworthy.
The Skipjacks, however, aren’t as concerned with history as they are with current events. Sunday’s victory gave Chesapeake (27-9) a 4-1 Region XX record and allowed the first-place Skipjacks to remain in control of their playoff destiny. A win over Hagerstown Community College on April 29th and a doubleheader sweep of Garrett College on May 1st in the final three games of the regular season would clinch the top seed for next month’s tournament.
Hagerstown and Garrett are each 2-2 in region play, while Potomac State is 2-3 and Anne Arundel is 1-3.
The path to the top seed may be clear, but Chesapeake head coach Frank Szymanski said it won’t be easy.
"It’s a tough region there are some great clubs out there," said Szymanski, whose team took its only Region XX loss to date last week at Hagerstown. "Our team has worked extremely hard to put ourselves in this position, but we’ve got to keep working hard because we’re going to have to earn everything we get."
The Skipjacks certainly had to work for Sunday’s victory while Potomac State’s record is an uncharacteristic 11-20, the Catamounts’ talent is clear from recent wins over Hagerstown and Cecil College.
"I just don’t think their record speaks for their talent," said Szymanski. "They’ve got an impressive tradition, a great coach (Doug Little) and a program that we really respect. They made some sensational plays in the field today they just didn’t get any timely hitting."
Winning pitcher Devin Gardner had a lot to do with that, allowing just two hits over eight innings while the offense manufactured runs out of outs on four different occasions with three sacrifice flies and a run-scoring groundout.
"That’s what you have to do make each out count," said Gardner, who worked through Sunday’s windy conditions to pitch a gem.
"I couldn’t get warmed up and I didn’t feel like I had a lot on my fastball," said Gardner, who struck out six, walked four, hit one batter, and did not allow an earned run. "I had to focus on keeping them (the Catamounts) off balance. The slider and cutter were working that helped a lot."
"He (Gardner) really controlled the game and showed a lot of poise," said Szymanski.
Potomac State broke on top with a pair of first-inning runs courtesy of two Skipjack errors. Chesapeake, however, answered with a three-run outburst in the bottom half of the inning to take the lead for good.
Anthony Ragos and Tucker Tobin (2-for-4, two runs) had consecutive singles off PSC starter Austin Art, and Mike Turner (2-for-4) followed with a run-scoring double to the fence in left. Chris Beall’s groundout to second scored Tobin with the tying run and Tom Gilchrist plated Turner with go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly.
Tobin homered to deep center field in the third and the Skipjacks added two more runs in the sixth as Zack Larson (double, run, two RBI) and Richie McMahon (double, two RBI) each hit run-scoring sacrifice flies.
"We did an excellent job of putting the bat on the ball and situational hitting," said Szymanski, whose team scored eight runs with just nine hits.
Skipjack closer Billy Felo pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts.
Jason Driver and Josh Cox had PSC’s two hits.
Notes: CCBC-Catonsville swept Frederick Community College, 7-0 and 5-4, Saturday afternoon to hand the Cougars their first two Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference losses of the season. That increases the importance of Tuesday’s 2 p.m. doubleheader at second-place Chesapeake (15-5 league).
"The state race is tightening back up," said Szymanski. "This is why we practice so hard and work for opportunities like this to be in a pennant race. It just so happens we’re in two (the state and region races)."
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