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Baseball

Eight-run sixth allows ’Jacks to pull out split
Bodnar’s pinch-hit slam sinks Cards, sets up final week

CATONSVILLE – You just can’t keep a good team down.

That’s the only plausible explanation for what the Chesapeake College baseball team accomplished Saturday afternoon at the Community College of Baltimore County-Catonsville. The Skipjacks – on the wrong end of a 9-0 score in the opener and in a 5-0 hole in the nightcap – hit three home runs during an eight-run sixth inning to steal an 8-5 win and salvage a split.

"It was a huge win," said Chris Bodnar, whose pinch-hit grand slam proved to be the winning hit. "We were down all day, but we don’t ever give up. It doesn’t matter what team we’re playing – we keep fighting."

While the Skipjacks displayed plenty of power in the sixth-inning explosion, it was a leadoff bunt single by Brent Poullard that got the rally started. Tommy Gilchrist then walked and Zack Larson homered off Catonsville starter Victor Monero to suddenly pull Chesapeake within 5-3.

Chris Bell then singled, ending Monero’s day. Reliever Kyle Grant hit Billy Felo with a 1-2 pitch and gave up a one-out single to Richie McMahon. That’s when Bodnar got the call to pinch hit with the bases loaded.

"I was just reacting to what he was throwing," Bodnar said of his slam to deep right center that gave the Skipjacks a 7-5 lead. "I wasn’t looking for anything special. I was just trying to stay calm and wait for my pitch. I didn’t want to swing too hard – I just wanted to put the ball in play."

Poullard, who started the rally with the smallest of hits, ended it with a home run that gave Chesapeake its final 8-5 cushion. "We were just trying to get something going all day," said Chesapeake head coach Frank Szymanski. "We hung in there because of this team’s attitude. It really is a ’never-say-die’ attitude and it’s a quality they’ve shown all year long."

The split left Chesapeake (31-12 overall, 17-8 league) tied with Catonsville (30-14, 17-8) for fourth place in the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference. Frederick (41-4, 24-2) has already clinched the state title, with Harford (31-10, 18-7) and Allegany (30-9, 16-7) just ahead of Chesapeake and Catonsville.

While two close losses to Frederick last week ended Chesapeake’s state title hopes, Szymanski has the Skipjacks looking ahead.

"Our focus now is on the Region XX games," said Szymanski, referring to Thursday’s contest against visiting Hagerstown and Saturday’s doubleheader with visiting Garrett College. "That’s where our focus has to be."

The Skipjacks currently have one Region XX loss – to Hagerstown – while Hagerstown has two. Both Garrett and Potomac State have three region losses.

Felo, who threw 2 2/3 innings in relief of starter Danny Abdalla, was Game 2’s winning pitcher. He allowed just three hits and no earned runs with two strikeouts and no walks.

Mike Turner got the save, working around two hits and a walk with two strikeouts while pitching the seventh.

Chris Bell went 3-for-4 and Poullard was 2-for-3 in Game 2 for the Skipjacks. Marcus Breeden (2-for-4, two runs, two RBI) led Catonsville, including a home run as part of a three-run fourth that broke open a scoreless game. The Cards added two in the fifth to get their 5-0 lead.

Catonsville won the opener behind Justin Whittingham’s four-hit shutout. Whittingham struck out 15 and walked just one. Jonathan Blasher (2-for-4, three RBI) hit a two-run, first-inning homer and Glenn Davis (three runs scored) had a three-run shot in the sixth.

Devin Gardner took the loss, allowing five hits and a walk with four strikeouts in five innings. Catonsville scored seven runs during Gardner’s outing, but only two were earned.

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