After suffering one of its worst defeats of the season, Gaithersburg Post 295 changed its uniform and lineup for the play-back game of the Montgomery County American Legion championship yesterday at Damascus Regional Park.
More important, it changed the outcome.
Led by shortstop Brian McKenna, who went 3 for 5 with two home runs and eight RBI, Gaithersburg won the county title with a 20-6 win over Damascus Post 171. Gaithersburg (31-10) will play Dewey Loman at 9 a.m. Friday in the opening round of the state tournament at McCurdy Field in Frederick. Damascus, which forced the play-back game by crushing Gaithersburg, 20-9, in the opening game, finished 35-10.
"We got off to a terrible start in the first game and couldn't recover," said Gaithersburg Coach Rick Price, who pulled his starters midway through the first game to rest them for the play-back game. "But we really pulled it together in the second game. . . . I think we did exactly what [Damascus] did in the first game. We got off to a quick start and rode the momentum."
Gaithersburg sent eight men to the plate in the first inning, scoring four runs on four hits. Kevin Low hit a leadoff double, Greg Stevenson walked and McKenna smashed a three-run homer to left-center. Two batters later, J.D. Lubenetski hit a solo homer to left, chasing Damascus starter Daniel Fisher and giving Post 295 a commanding lead.
Gaithersburg sent nine men to the plate in the second, scoring five runs on two hits, two walks and an error. Stevenson (5 for 5, six RBI) hit a two-run triple to center and McKenna roped an RBI double to left.
"We didn't play bad the first game," said McKenna, who went 1 for 3 in the opener. "But we hit the heck out of the ball in the second game. We were aggressive, we were hitting balls in the gaps. That's probably the best we've hit all year."
Following a solo home run from Corey Consuegra in the third, Damascus sent nine to the plate in the fourth and scored three runs on two hits, two walks and two errors. But following a two-out walk to Consuegra in the fourth, Gaithersburg pitcher Adam Ringold retired nine of the next 12 batters to notch the complete-game victory.