Tuesday, July 21, 2009, by James Peters Staff Writer
As the host of this week's Maryland State American Legion baseball tournament at the University of Maryland's Shipley Field, Gaithersburg Post 295 will be in charge of the day-to-day operations. But it had no control over the random pre-tournament pairing draw.
Because of that, the defending state champions will play a familiar foe during Friday's first round: Gaithersburg Post 104, which it played three times last week. Post 295 beat Post 104 twice Sunday to win the Montgomery Division championship.
Post 104 qualified for the state tournament by reaching the final, with Post 295 having automatically secured a spot as host.
"It is a little weird, because it will be the fourth time in a week," said Post 295 pitcher-infielder Zach Skellchock. "They're ready for it, we're ready for it, so let's go out and play."
Added Post 104 manager Joe Stolz: "Going to states is fun … and we'll play them again. These were two competitive, close games and that will be, too."
Friday's contest, the final one slated for the first day, could be a repeat pitching match-up between Post 295 left-hander Jimmy Reed (7-1, 1.62 earned-run average) and Post 104 ace Nick Riley (5-3, 3.32 ERA). Reed went the distance in Sunday's opener, while Riley was lifted after his shutout bid ended in the sixth inning.
"It will be a great experience to get to host it and see what we can do in the state tournament," said Post 295 manager Rick Price.
Post 295 is paced on the mound by Reed, Dominique Vattuone (5-0, 2.78 ERA) and Tyler Klitsch (3-2, 2.33 ERA), and at the plate by Nike Karis (.383 average, 22 runs batted in), Mike Ryan (.378, 15 RBI), Spencer Pearman (.351, 24 RBI) and Matt Civetti (.319, 4 home runs, 24 RBI).
Riley and Mike Linkins (4-1, 4.50 ERA) anchor the Post 104 pitching staff, while Kenny Beyer (.444, 27 runs), Matt Miller (.367, 22 RBI, 35 runs) and Ben Silverman (.337, 29 RBI) are the team's top hitters.
"It's very weird but hey, if we beat them, it's sweet," Post 104 infielder Kory Smigocki said.
The rest of the eight-team state tournament field consists of LaPlata Post 82, Fort Cumberland Post 13, Frederick Post 11 and Mount Airy Post 191.
Two more teams will be involved: The Anne Arundel County champion, Pasadena Post 277 or Severna Park Post 175, and the Eastern Shore champion, Salisbury Post 64 or Queen Anne Post 18/36. Both were involved in games which ended too late to be included in this edition.
Post 11 appears the strongest of the non-Montgomery County teams, having gone 24-0 in district play. It boasts a powerful lineup including Hank Adams (.398, 6 home runs, 33 RBI), Brent DeHaven (.410, 23 RBI, 36 runs), Brady Wilson (.419, 17 extra-base hits, 40 RBI) and Frankie Zier (.462, 38 RBI). It pitches well, too, with arms like Zach Jones (6-1, 3.00 ERA), Nick Meekins (6-0, 5.79 ERA) and Zier (7-0, 3.09 ERA).
- Sandy Spring Post 68 entered the Montgomery Division tournament having won 13 of its final 14 games on-field, but couldn't carry that momentum into the postseason.
Post 68 dropped its only two tournament games to end what was an otherwise strong summer, the second in the team's brief existence.
- Gaithersburg Post 104 used just two pitchers, Nick Riley and Mike Linkins, to reach Sunday's Montgomery Division tournament championship game. But it was forced to use seven hurlers during a double-header sweep at the hands of Gaithersburg Post 295, which won the title by scores of 8-4 and 13-11.
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