Despite losing their first two games, the Montgomery County Baseball Association 15-and-under Patriots placed in the top 16 at the AAU Junior Olympic championships July 30 to Aug. 7 in Memphis, Tenn.

"I'm real happy with the way our team played," said Patriots Coach Tom Egan, who was assisted by Tom Wotring and Jim Reed. "We learned a lot and we look forward to returning next year."

The Patriots began the tournament with a 4-3 loss to the Virginia Heat. Ryan Moran (Watkins Mill) gave up two runs in five innings and Adam Mayhew (St. John's) went 2 for 3 with a double and three RBI. Eric Wolf (Churchill) went 2 for 3 and John Schmidt (Blake) gave up two unearned runs. D.J. Reed (St. John's) went 1 for 3 and Justin Riggs (Springbrook) and Hans Falkenhan (Blake) turned four double plays. Luke Tate (St. John's) and Mike McCarthy (Damascus) also played well.

The Patriots fell to 0-2 with a 2-1 loss to the Florida Scorpions. Wolf and Brett Berngartt (Paint Branch) each had four strikeouts and Alex Wotring (St. John's) hit an RBI double. Chris Curran (B-CC) singled, doubled and scored one run.

MCBA closed out the first round with a 7-0 win over Missouri. Curran, Mayhew and Russell Durfee (Springbrook) each pitched well and Riggs, Falkenhan and Ken Ichi Hino played good defense. Following the game, the team got some good news. Despite winning just one game in the opening round, they advanced to the championship round as a wild card.

"We thought we were headed to the consolation round," said Egan, whose team earned the wild card based on the number of runs given up. "Once we learned we were headed to the championship round, we figured we better take advantage."

The Patriots did just that, beating the Florida Barracudas, 8-4. Matt Pflieger (Magruder) went 2 for 4 with a double and four RBI and Moran worked out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth inning. Justin Maxwell (Sherwood) drove in two runs and Riggs and Falkenhan turned three double plays.

MCBA left 10 men on base and fell to Illinois, 4-3, in the next game. Moran went 2 for 3 with two two doubles and Durfee gave up five hits in seven innings and had seven strikeouts. Wotring, Riggs and Moran each had one RBI.

Needing a win to advance to the round of 16, the Patriots crushed Arkansas, 8-1. Curran gave up four hits and one run in five innings and Maxwell went 3 for 4 with a triple and three RBI. Mayhew (2 for 3) and Falkenhan (1 for 3) each drove in two runs and Pflieger had an RBI double. Berngartt pitched two scoreless innings.

The team's season came to an end the following day as California cruised to a 12-2 victory. Wolf, Moran and Durfee each pitched well and Pflieger, Mayhew and Wotring had good days at the plate.

"California was the best team by far," said Egan of the eventual national champions. "We were amazed at how good they were. Until we met California, our strength was defense and pitching. But they just ate us up."