Spring break may be in session but there was baseball that still needed to be played as the Oakland Mills Scorpions traveled to face off against the Meade Mustangs. Last year when these two teams faced off it was opening day for the Mustangs, who captured a 12-9 win to start the season off.
However, Monday afternoon was a different story as the Scorpions fended off the Mustangs 3-2 in a close game throughout. The first pitch was originally set for 4 p.m., but with no umpires arriving, the game was moved back an hour with players from both teams trying to remain loose and ready.
Oakland Mills coach Matthew Sillers tried to use the delay as best he could.
“We went to go hit in the [batting] cages more,” Sillers said. “We hit before we left the school but we came back and we knew we were going to have that delay so I wanted to keep them moving and up, anything to keep their mind focused on the game was what he had to do.”
Meade sent sophomore left-hander Noah June to the hill while Oakland Mills sent senior Chris Clyde. After June sent down the first three Scorpion hitters on 10 pitches, the Mustangs came up to bat.
Junior Devonte Hatcher led off the inning with a double over right fielder Justin Briones’ head to put a runner in scoring position. Hatcher then advanced to third base after a wild pitch. A Jordan Stewart strikeout sent Derek Donastrong to the plate looking to give Meade the early lead.
Donastrong sent a ground ball to shortstop Ryan Looper who wasn’t able to handle it, resulting in an infield hit as the Mustangs took the 1-0 lead. Darren Donastrong looked to get more runs on the board but sent a line drive right at first baseman Cameron Nikiel who doubled off Derek as he was attempting to steal second base.
June was able to locate pitches where he wanted to as he didn’t allow a hit until the top of the fifth when Nikiel ripped a first pitch double into left field to start a rally for the Scorpions. A passed ball sent Nikiel to third with nobody out.
He then scored on another passed ball tying the game at 1. After two walks and a sacrifice bunt set runners up in scoring position, June was able to escape the inning only giving up the one run.
A scoreless bottom half of the fifth for the Mustangs gave the Scorpions a chance to take the lead. The sixth inning was led off with singles from Clyde and Eric Barros. A strikeout and flyout sent Jacob Lawrence to the plate as the last hope to move the runners up.
On the first pitch, Lawrence sent a comebacker right at June. He was able to get part of his glove on it, making it a tough play for Derek Donastrong. Donastrong barehanded the ball and fired it to first baseman Ian Griffin who thought he had the third out of the inning but the umpire called Lawrence safe. Clyde was able to score the go-ahead run and Barros advanced to third on the play. AJ Kanakry followed after Lawrence and hit a single in between Griffin and Derek, sending Barros home to give the Scorpions a 3-1 lead.
Another one-two-three inning in the bottom half of the sixth capped off Clyde’s pitching performance as he had reached the 105 pitch count limit.
June was able to get two outs in the seventh inning before being replaced by Darren Donastrong as he had reached his pitch limit. Donastrong walked the first batter he faced before getting a groundout to end the inning.
With the bottom of the seventh approaching, Oakland Mills sent out Ryan Looper to finish off the game as Clyde replaced him at shortstop. Griffin led off the inning with a shot up the middle and stole second base after multiple pick off attempts.
Hatcher struck out looking for the first out, while Stewart grounded out to second advancing Griffin to third. Derek Donastrong brought Griffin into score by hitting a double into right field with twin Darren representing the tying run. After two pitches, Darren was intentionally walked for the second time, putting June at the plate representing the game winning run. Looper got June to pop-up to him, ending the game.
Sillers was happy the way his team fought back in the game.
“If [Meade] was going to make mistakes we need to take advantage of them and they didn’t make many mistakes, Meade played a really a good game,” he said.“[We need to] build from and learn from our mistakes when we make bad plays and not hang our heads” Sillers added.
While this wasn’t the result Meade coach Ed Grap wanted, he knows what the team has to do in order to be successful.
“Only scoring one run in the first inning and not scoring throughout the game, I [think that] added pressure to the kids” Grap said. “We didn’t miss by much, there were a couple little plays that could’ve gone either way and that [ended] up being the difference.”
The Mustangs have to bounce back quickly as they play at Glen Burnie on Tuesday, April 11, at 4 p.m.