Focus on Sports
Szymanski: Skipjacks are playoff-ready

Chesapeake falls one strike short in upset bid against Cardinals

Friday, May 06, 2011

WYE MILLS – James Rossi’s two-out, two-run single in the top of the seventh Thursday afternoon gave CCBC-Catonsville a 7-6 baseball win over Chesapeake College. It also gave Chesapeake head coach Frank Szymanski confirmation that his Skipjacks are prepared for this weekend’s NJCAA Division I Region XX play-in.

"We’ll be ready for Saturday," said Szymanski, whose sixth-seeded Skipjacks (20-25-1) play fifth-seeded Hagerstown Community College (32-21) Saturday at 11 a.m. at Anne Arundel Community College. "We know it’s win and move on, or lose and go home."

The winner of the Chesapeake-Hagerstown game then plays fourth-seeded Anne Arundel (27-18) Saturday afternoon for the right to advance to the regional final four. That double-elimination tournament will take place next week at Potomac State College in Keyser, W. Va.

"Our focus today was to try to win, but that just didn’t happen," said Szymanski, whose team was shut out by Catonsville, 6-0, in the opening game of Thursday’s doubleheader. "I was a little disappointed in our hitting in the first game, but we came right back and played well in the second game."

Catonsville (31-16 overall, 21-5 league) used the doubleheader sweep to set up Friday’s potential state title showdown with Frederick Community College (39-4, 17-4). Frederick needed to at least split Thursday’s doubleheader with Cecil College in order for Friday’s game with Catonsville to decide the state race.

Cardinal pitcher Mitchell Smith threw a two-hit shutout in the opener, but the Skipjack bats got going in the nightcap.

Trailing 5-3, Chesapeake greeted Cardinal reliever Doug Girdner with three fifth-inning runs. Mike Russo had an RBI single and Ricky Brady (2-for-4, two runs RBI) drove in Russo with a game-tying double. Brendon Burch then drilled a hard-hard grounder that shortstop Ian Sedney played into an error, scoring Brady for a 6-5 lead.

Catonsville threatened in the sixth, but Tyler Wood hit into an inning-ending, 4-6-3 double play started by second baseman Ryan Apodaca. The Cardinals came right back with another threat in the top of the seventh as Ryan Kiser and pinch hitter Mitchell Smith hit consecutive singles back through the box, including one by Smith that took a nasty bounce off reliever Spencer Gillis’ chest.

Gillis then struck out Kyle Rivera and Sedney hit a grounder that nearly turned into a game-ending double play, but he beat the throw to first. Gillis then walked Ryan Hubbard on a 3-2 pitch that loaded the bases, leading Szymanski to bring in Nik Nowottnick in relief.

Nowottnick quickly worked into an 0-2 count, but Ross (3-for-5, run) fouled off a pitch before delivering what proved to be the game-winning hit.

Notes: Kevin Loftis joined Brady with two hits for Chesapeake while Jordan Gowe had a solo home run. Nick Hallis had three hits for Catonsville. . . .

Chesapeake played 14 one-run games this season, going 5-9 in those contests. While finishing with a losing regular-season record, the Skipjacks did end the year with a winning (14-12-1) record in the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference.

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