Neither the manager nor the players on Pasadena Post 277's American Legion baseball team thought it would be over so fast -- but it was.
A little over 24 hours after it began play in the eight-team, double-elimination American Legion Maryland state playoffs last weekend in Frederick, Post 277 -- the Anne Arundel League champion for the second year in a row -- was headed back to the hotel to pack up for the ride home. Pasadena lost its first game, 2-1, to Chaney Enterprises (Waldorf) on Friday and dropped an error-filled Saturday afternoon game to Funkstown (Western Maryland), 17-13.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be home at 4 o'clock Saturday afternoon," said fifth-year Pasadena coach Victor Ostrowski. "I just figured we're going to come out of the first two games with two wins. . . . But unfortunately we never got there."
Entering the playoffs with a 34-11 record (25-5 in the Anne Arundel league), Pasadena had high hopes to better last season's third-place showing at the state tournament. Winning the state contest would have advanced it to the Mid-Atlantic regionals in Boyertown, Pa., later this month. The winner of that regional advances to the World Series, to be played Aug. 20-24 in Corvallis, Ore.
On Friday morning, however, Pasadena's batters could not come up with timely hits to complement a decent outing by ace right-hander Matt Buchholz, who entered the game with a 9-0 record and a 0.56 ERA.
Buchholz had some control problems in the first inning and hit two batters; the second came with the bases loaded and gave Chaney a 1-0 lead.
"I pitch inside. I don't want to give them the advantage," said Buchholz, who was playing his first -- and last -- year of Legion baseball. Buchholz just completed his freshman year at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and next summer will be over the age limit (19) to play American Legion.
Chaney scored an unearned run in the fourth inning for a 2-0 lead, but Pasadena cut the lead to 2-1 in the eighth inning on Cameron Loeschke's double and Josh Ries's RBI single. Pasadena stranded two runners in the eighth and the potential tying run in the ninth.
While Buchholz was proud of the way Pasadena played during the season, he didn't mince words about what happened last week.
"It seemed as soon as we clinched the spot in the state tournament [by winning the Anne Arundel league] we suffered a letdown and couldn't turn it back on," he said.
Friday's defeat put Pasadena into the loser's bracket against Funkstown, which jumped to a 15-4 lead after four innings. Pasadena, led offensively by Chris Majerowicz (4 for 6 with a double, triple, three runs scored, two RBI), clawed back with four runs in the seventh, two in the eighth and two in the ninth but fell a few runs short.
"I wish they could have finished on top," said Ostrowski. "It would have been a nice feather in their caps -- for many of them the biggest thing that they would have won in their baseball careers."