It was the type of late-inning comeback a team gets victimized by maybe once or twice in a season: a subtle defensive mistake to start the ninth inning, a bad pitch, a clutch hit and then sudden defeat.
Southern Maryland's Chaney Enterprises baseball team fell victim to that scenario Tuesday afternoon. Twice.
In the best-of-three finals at the Maryland American Legion baseball tournament, Chaney Enterprises (27-12) blew two ninth-inning leads to Funkstown Post 211. In the morning, Funkstown overcame a one-run deficit in the ninth inning to win, 3-2, in 10 innings; five hours later, it came back from three runs down in the final inning for a 5-4 win at Salisbury University's Sea Gull Field.
Had Chaney Enterprises -- composed of players from Thomas Stone, Westlake and McDonough high schools -- won either of those games, it would have earned its first state title since 1996. Instead, Funkstown, from near Hagerstown, advanced to the Aug. 11-15 Mid-Atlantic regional tournament in Brooklawn, N.J.
"To have that happen to us two times in one day is almost unbelievable," Chaney shortstop Ben Sobocinski said. "We should have won both of those games. We could have had the state title twice."
They especially could have had it, Sobocinski said, in the second game.
Propelled by a strong start by pitcher Bob Vogt and five consecutive singles in the sixth inning, Chaney entered the ninth with a 4-1 lead. Justin Armiger, the team's most reliable pitcher during the regular season, came in to close it out and several fans were already busy celebrating.
Usually a control pitcher, Armiger never felt in control during the ninth. He walked four batters and hit another, leading to three runs. His final pitch of the afternoon was hit by Post 211's Trevor Cobb for a single, driving in the game-winning run.
"I just couldn't throw strikes," Armiger said. "I knew I didn't have it after the second batter. It hurts, because we could have won us that game."
It was a day filled with missed opportunities for Chaney. Only twice in the 19 innings Tuesday did Chaney manage more than two hits in an inning. In the morning game, the team left five runners in scoring position during the final three innings.
"We're going to have a lot to think about, because we could have won both of these games," Coach Ed Glaeser said. "If we just played a little better down the stretch, we would be talking about what a great story this team has been."