Focus on Sports
'Jacks make the most of one hit to split with Frederick

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

WYE MILLS – Who knew that Brad Brainer´s right-field double leading off the first inning would be the only hit surrendered by Frederick Community College pitcher Clay Gumphrey?

Or, that it would be the only hit the Skipjacks needed?

Brainer stole third and scored on J.T. Gregory´s sacrifice fly. Kurt Bruce and Eddie West then combined on a five-hit shutout – aided immeasurably by a pair of double plays – as Chesapeake College blanked the Cougars, 1-0, in Game 2 Saturday to earn a split of the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference baseball doubleheader.

Frederick scored eight runs over the final three innings to win the opener, 10-2, but Chesapeake head coach Frank Szymanski was pleased with how his squad bounced back in the nightcap.

"We´re still trying to find some consistency coming down the stretch, but I like the way we responded in the second game," said Szymanski. "We´re trying to stay positive and play hard – and this team always plays hard."

The split dropped the Skipjacks (28-15 overall, 13-6 conference) two games behind league-leading CCBC-Catonsville (25-14, 15-4). Frederick (24-9, 11-6) fell three games behind Catonsville, but is just two behind the Cardinals in the loss column.

Gumphrey struck out four, walked two, and really only faced one serious threat after the first inning. Frederick wasted its five hits as Brian Collins twice grounded into double plays – both started by Gregory at short – and the Skipjack pitching excelled.

"Kurt and Eddie shut them down," noted Brainer, who acknowledged the importance of gaining a split. "That was a big win for us – you don´t want to lose two to someone in your league."

Bruce allowed just four hits over five innings while striking out five.

"Everything was working," said Bruce, who threw only 15 balls among his 54 pitches. "I could throw a curveball on 2-and-oh pitches – it was great.

"I figured I would only pitch about three innings," added Bruce, who was on a short pitch count. "I just kept throwing strikes and they just kept hitting the ball on the ground. Then Eddie did a great job closing it out."

West went the final two innings to earn the save, giving up a single to the first batter he faced before Collins grounded into his second double play. Collins was the first of five straight hitters retired by West to close the contest, including a strikeout of Matt Hamilton to end the game.

Neither Chesapeake pitcher walked a batter.

Jared Olson went 3-for-3 for Frederick in Game 2 while Chris Cox and John Marlette had the other two Cougar hits.

Game 1 began as a pitcher´s duel, with Collins and the Cougars taking a 2-1 lead into the fifth inning against Chesapeake starter Justin Sousa. Frederick broke the game open with a four-run fifth that included RBI hits by Collins and Cox and two critical Skipjack errors.

Chesapeake finished the opener with four errors and three Skipjack pitchers combined for six walks. That included four free passes by Jeremy Grove, who entered the game during Frederick´s fifth-inning explosion.

The Cougars tacked on four seventh-inning runs to seal the win.

Collins earned the win, spaced five hits over five innings. Sousa, lifted with no outs in the fifth, allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks in four-plus innings.

Daniel Chevalier went 3-for-3 and scored twice, and Olson was 2-for-4 with two RBI to pace the Cougars in Game 1. Gregory and Bryan Woolford each had two hits for Chesapeake, which finished with six hits.

The Skipjacks travel to Baltimore Sunday for a noon doubleheader against the Johns Hopkins University junior varsity. Chesapeake plays another noon doubleheader Tuesday at Garrett College, followed by a 1 p.m. twin bill Wednesday at Hagerstown Community College.

The four games against Garrett and Hagerstown are particularly crucial since they count both in the state and the NJCAA Region XX Division I standings.

Chesapeake finishes the regular season Wednesday with a 3 p.m. home game against first-place Catonsville.

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