Thursday, July 16, 2009

Playing like champions

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 by Daniel Weintraub Special to The Gazette

Defending state-title winner Gaithersburg Post 295 scores 11 unanswered runs en route to playoff victory over Laurel Post 60

After taking a four-run lead in the top of the first inning, underdog Laurel Post 60 seemed poised to pull off a stunning upset over Gaithersburg Post 295, the top seed in the American Legion baseball playoffs.

Minutes later, the defending state champions erased such possibilities.

After allowing a grand slam to third baseman Danny Caddigan, Post 295 starting pitcher Jimmy Reed shut out Post 60 until being taken out after the fifth inning. While Reed buckled down, his offensive support exploded with 11 runs, including a seven-run fourth inning, en route to a 12-8 win.

Post 295 responded quickly to Post 60's early offensive; right fielder Matt Civetti hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the first. After tying the game in the second on a run-scoring double by designated hitter Mike Ryan, Post 295 blew the game open with seven runs in the fourth, sending 12 batters to the plate. They knocked out Post 60 starter Kevin Kratochwill in the process, with all nine batters reaching with base hits in the rally.

"We hit the ball really well," said Post 295 manager Rick Price. "We have to keep doing what we're doing because we're pretty good when we hit well."

After Caddigan's early grand slam, Post 60 was held scoreless by Post 295 until the sixth inning. In the fourth inning, Reed needed just 14 pitches to strike out the side. After scoring once in the sixth off reliever Daniel Young, Post 60 got a three-run homer from Rob Medoff in the seventh, cutting the lead to four.

Price then yanked Young in favor of Tyler Klitsch, who after surrendering a walk and single, struck out Post 60 left fielder Nick Meyer for the game's final out.

On Thursday, Post 295 (22-5) will face county rival Gaithersburg Post 104 in a game featuring the winners of Tuesday night's two playoff games. Post 104 upset Sandy Spring Post 68, 7-2, at Shirley Povich Field, setting up a playoff-elimination game between Post 68 and Post 60 (14-13).

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