The Columbia Reds, an under-16 baseball team composed primarily of players from Howard County, advanced to this week's National Amateur Baseball Federation World Series in Northville, Mich., after winning the Region IV tournament last weekend in Sykesville.
The Reds went 4-1 in the double-elimination tournament. They opened the tournament with a 4-2 victory over Glen Burnie, then fell 15-4 to the Maryland Cardinals.
"After that [Cardinals] game we knew it wasn't going to be easy," said Coach Tim O'Brien, who also coaches Long Reach. "It's hard to come out of the loser's bracket to win a tournament."
But after a 6-5 victory over Funkstown on Saturday, the Reds eliminated the Cardinals, 9-4, on Sunday. They then claimed the title with a 17-10 win over the Harford Sox.
The Reds, along with the nine other region winners from the United States and Canada, will begin pool play at the World Series today.
Long Reach junior Kevin O'Brien, Tim's son, had three saves, and nearly every player came through with timely hits, especially Centennial junior Alex Bechta, who went 5 for 10 and drove in five runs over the final two games. Mount Hebron junior center fielder Brady Baxter, Atholton junior David Lanier and Loyola junior Hunter McIntyre each had three hits against the Sox.
"The final three games we played were the best we've played all season," Baxter said. "I don't think anybody thought we'd give a performance like that, especially offensively, but that's what we needed to do to win the tournament."
18-Under Team Falls
The Columbia Reds' 18-and-under baseball team, composed primarily of players from Howard County, was denied a trip to the National Amateur Baseball Federation World Series when it was eliminated at the Region III tournament last weekend at Laurel Springs Park in La Plata.
The Reds' stay in the double-elimination tournament was brief; they lost 6-0 to the Maryland Lakers and 2-1 to a team from St. Mary's County.
"We just didn't hit, which is something we didn't do all season," said Coach Paul Donovan, who team finished the season 32-12. "Pitching can keep you in games, but you have to score runs to win, and that's something we didn't do."
In the second game, St. Mary's scored two unearned runs in the first inning, and Charles Swenson did not allow a run the rest of the way, striking out five batters. In the seventh inning, Ed Bach, a recent Atholton graduate, hit a run-scoring single for the Reds. The game ended when Bach was thrown out trying to steal third base.
"It's disappointing because I don't think we were focused enough to win," said Swenson, a senior at Mount Hebron. "It's a tough loss because it cost us a shot at going to the World Series, and who doesn't want to play there?"
'Fulfilled a Dream'
Two boys' lacrosse players and four girls' players have been named all-Americans by U.S. Lacrosse.
Attackmen Ben Hostetler, a recent graduate of River Hill, and Alex Ashcroft, a recent graduate of Centennial, made the list, as did recent Mount Hebron graduates Meg Taylor and Ginna Lance, Glenelg graduate Aly Blum and Mount Hebron senior Megan Bosica.
"It was so crazy when I found out because it was like I fulfilled a dream," said Ashcroft, who led the Eagles to their second consecutive 3A/2A title this past spring.
Defenseman Scott Fry, a recent Centennial graduate, was named Academic all-American.
On the girls' side, Terri Coover, a recent graduate from Glenelg, along with Mount Hebron recent graduate Cassie Krause and rising senior Jackie Doherty receivedhonorable mentions.