An Independence Day tradition turned into a slugfest yesterday at Water's Field in Vienna as American Legion District 17 held its annual midseason all-star game. When the smoke cleared, the National League defeated the American League, 18-16, on a two-out grand slam in the eighth and final inning by McLean Post 270's David Thomas.

The grand slam capped a 10-run final inning for the National League.

Herndon Post 184's Jordan Ghrist (3 for 4, five RBI) hit a grand slam for the American League in the fourth to give the Americans a 9-5 lead.

American League and Annandale Post 1976 coach Jerry Park had elected to walk Post 176's Colin Smith to load the bases for Thomas, who also earned the win by throwing a scoreless eighth.

"That's how these games go. Everybody can hit," Park said. "A pitcher makes a mistake and puts one up in the zone, a kid will hit one out."

The game was shortened by an inning because of schedule restrictions. And with so many runs crossing the plate, the teams simply ran out of time.

Three players from each of the 11 teams in the district were selected by the each team's coach.

Fredericksburg in First

In a District 16 triple-header Saturday at Stafford High, Fredericksburg Post 55 strengthened its hold on Division A with a come-from-behind 7-5 win over Stafford Post 290 and a 19-4 win over Loudoun Post 34.

Those wins, coupled with a 10-7 Loudoun win over Stafford in the day's final game, gave Fredericksburg (12-1) a three-game lead over Stafford (9-4) and a 2-1 head-to-head advantage. The season series between the two is complete.

"It was a major win," Fredericksburg Coach Travis Bullock said. "We were dragging out there after 6 1/2 hours in that heat. But we finally got it going in the sixth inning and forgot how tired we were."

Martinez Is a Star

Southern Maryland catcher Raul Martinez's RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning earned the Clark Griffith all-stars a 2-1 victory Wednesday over the Eddie Brooks League all-stars in the inaugural Joe Branzell All-Star Game at Shirley Povich Field in Bethesda.

"This was really a good time," said Martinez, who played his high school ball in Puerto Rico and recently graduated from Indian Hills Community College. "It's always fun to test yourself against players from other leagues and even more fun because I got the winning hit."

Nine Clark Griffith pitchers (one each inning) combined to hold the Eddie Brooks all-stars to three hits, one a solo home run by Prince George's Cannons second baseman Chris Bono that tied the game at one in the seventh inning. . . .

On Friday, Arlington defeated Southern Maryland, 10-1, to capture the first-half title. The two teams finished the 20-game regular season 13-7. It was Southern Maryland's best half in its three-year history. Arlington is the defending league champion.

Patriots Set for Nationals

With a 3-0 sweep of the Potomac Valley AAU regional tournament last week, the 15-and-under Montgomery County Baseball Association Patriots qualified for their first AAU national championship.

The AAU national championships will be held in Millington, Tenn., July 30 through August 7.

Sophomores Chris Curran (Bethesda-CC) and Ryan Moran (Watkins Mill) combined to shut out the Fairfax Vipers, 3-0, June 27 at Whitman High to complete the regional tournament sweep.

CAPTION: Chris Hotchkiss retires Jordan Ghrist in the American Legion all-star game. Ghrist went 3 for 4 with 5 RBI.