Defending champions dethroned
Trailing 6-4 going into the bottom of the eighth inning, Mount Airy Post 191 rallied for four runs en route to an 8-6 victory at the University of Maryland's Shipley Field, ending defending champion Gaithersburg's 2009 campaign.
Mount Airy will now face Gaithersburg Post 104 in Tuesday's final. Post 191 is undefeated in the tournament, and Post 104 (21-11) will have to beat it twice to win the state crown. The first game is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday, to be followed by a second if needed.
Post 295, the Montgomery Division champions, finished the season with a 28-7 record.
"It was just a matter of time before they got some timely hits and put some runs up there," Gaithersburg manager Rick Price said. "They're a good hitting team; that's what good hitting teams do. They eventually get you."
After seven solid innings of pitching from Tyler Klitsch, just back from vacation, Price handed the ball to reliever Brian Black in the bottom of the eighth with Post 295 up a pair of runs. Leadoff batter Larson Kimble worked a walk to start the inning and then Brian Peuthus tried to bunt him over to second base. Black quickly grabbed the bunt and threw to second in time to get Kimble, but the field umpire called Kimble safe, ruling that shortstop Tyler Ewing was off the bag.
"I just picked up the ball and threw to Tyler," Black said. "It looked like he was definitely there on the base and then he pulled off to look at first. I guess with the cloud of dust and the slide, the umpire just couldn't see his foot on the base. …
"It's just disappointing something like that would hurt our chances. We had chances all game to score runs and get more insurance, but to have their rally started on that kind of play hurts."
Jake Ringold followed with a sacrifice bunt to move Kimble to third and Peuthus to second. Doug Anuszewski then singled to left field to cut the lead to 6-5. Jason Driver, who was hitless on the day, then drove a pitch to left center field after what appeared to be strike three to drive in the tying run. Two batters later, Taylor Henry put Post 191 ahead for good with a two-run single to center field.
The loss diminished a strong outing by Klitsch, who allowed just two earned runs in his seven innings of work. He struck out four and walked two.
"His command was the best it's been all year," Price said. "That's the best hitting team in the tournament, including Frederick [Post 11]. And he held them. He just ran out of gas."
The contest started out in a back-and-forth fashion with Post 295 scoring first in the top of the first inning on a bases-loaded walk by Gary Schneider. Post 11 answered back with two runs in the bottom of the second inning, scoring on a combination of an error, a well-placed bunt single and a fielder's choice.
Gaithersburg rallied for the lead again in the top of the third with four runs, on a Nick Loftus single, a Schneider double and a two-run single by Josh Mendelson. Frederick trimmed the lead to 5-4 with two runs in the third on a two-base error and a single by Alex Anwar.
Post 11 looked poised to add some runs in the fourth with runners on second and third with one out but Anuszewski lined out and Klitsch struck out Driver. Gaithersburg then extended the lead to 6-4 on a single to left field by Ewing that scored Zach Skellchock in the top of the fifth.
Post 295 stranded eight runners in the final five innings and were caught stealing twice.