Until yesterday afternoon, Gaithersburg Post 295 had been the most successful team in the Maryland American Legion baseball tournament at McCurdy Field in Frederick.

But as the victim of an unexpectedly demanding schedule as well as a slew of unlucky bounces, Gaithersburg lost, 14-2, to Salisbury Post 64. Salisbury and Gaithersburg will meet again at 10 a.m. today in Frederick. The winner will be crowned state champion and advance to the regional tournament.

"It was just one of those days" in the second game, said pitcher John Beck, a 2003 Northwest High graduate who was tagged for 10 runs -- four earned -- in 21/3 innings. "There's nothing you can do about it. . . . I'm personally not worried. We're not the type of team to let this affect us."

After beating Francis Scott Key Post 11, 14-4, to advance to the championship game, Gaithersburg was forced to come back 45 minutes later to face Salisbury, the champion of the loser's bracket in the double-elimination tournament. The difficult predicament was caused by a weekend full of rain, which forced organizers to revise the schedule and divide the potential two-game championship into two days.

Salisbury, which had a four-hour break after eliminating Cecil yesterday morning, scored a combined 11 runs in the second and third innings against Gaithersburg and won after seven innings by the 10-run mercy rule. Salisbury benefited from some nasty hops on the infield that turned possible double plays into singles, and another run scored when a Gaithersburg outfielder lost a fly ball in the sun.

"We probably were a little tired," Gaithersburg Coach Rick Price said. "Their pitcher [David Whigham] had a great ballgame, he really shut us down. We didn't play a good second game."

It's Centreville's Year

According to the calendar it's an even year, which means good things should be in order for Centreville American League Post 1995 baseball coach Chris Kestyn and his players.

Post 1995 (25-4) swept its way to a third District 17 championship since 2000 last Friday behind another dominating performance by right-hander Brett Rembold, a 2003 Chantilly High graduate, earning a spot in this week's Virginia American Legion tournament. Centreville will be joined by three other Washington area teams in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament: Dumfries Post 28, Spotsylvania Post 320 and the host, Winchester Post 21.

Rembold, who had 15 strikeouts in a 7-0 victory over Arlington Post 139 in the District 17 title game, is one of five reasons Kestyn is confident entering the state tournament. Beside Rembold (5-3, 90 strikeouts), Kestyn has right-handers Jimmy Holm (4-1, 2.82 ERA), Matt Campbell (6-0, 2.19 ERA), Jason Klein (5-0, 2.39 ERA) and Bryan Parks (4-0, 1.82).

"We only go to states on years that end in even numbers," Kestyn said, referring to Centreville's district titles in 2000, '02, and '04. "Each time, it's been for a different reason. This year pitching is our strength. We've got a ton of it."

DeMatha's Democracy

If DeMatha basketball coach Mike Jones had a preference, his team would have a leader, a player to take control in key situations. After watching his team go undefeated in its two summer leagues, however, Jones is not too concerned about the Stags' committee of leaders.

DeMatha defeated Gonzaga, 83-64, to win the Rock Summer League at High Point last Thursday, then defeated Spalding, 75-57, to win the Ban the Brick League title at St. Albans on Sunday. Along the way, Jones watched junior guards Nigel Munson and Jeff Allen, senior forward Mamadi Diane and senior center Desmond Adedeji take turns as the team's top player.

"I guess in a perfect world you would [have one leader], but this is working out fine right now," Jones said. "The benefit is everybody is not going to play great every single day and with the way it is now, you don't have to." . . .

After spending a year away from coaching, Linda Curry will take over Northern's volleyball program, which has won eight Maryland state championships since 1990, this fall. She coached at Thomas Stone from 1997 to 2001. Curry, the 2002 All-Met Softball Coach of the Year, said she has not decided whether she wants to be a candidate for Northern's vacant softball position. She coached Thomas Stone to state titles in 2000 and 2002 in her six seasons with the Cougars' program.

Staff writers Josh Barr and Alan Goldenbach contributed to this report