An early Sunday morning breeze whipped around the old-time grandstand at Frederick’s McCurdy Field as the crack of wooden bats bounced off the houses across the street.
American Legion baseball was back in Frederick County, and Frederick Post 11 swept its first doubleheader of the season against Damascus Post 171. With the pair of wins — 14-4 in the first game and 10-0 in the second — Frederick moved to 3-1 on the season.
The first game was tight until the sixth inning. Damascus fought back to tie the game at 4-4 in the top of the sixth against Fredrick starter Erik Brown (Cecil College) thanks to a big two-out, two-RBI hit by Emory McMinn. The single slapped a sour ending on what otherwise was a sterling line for Brown, who tossed six innings, allowing four runs (none earned) on five hits. He struck out six and walked three. Despite spotty control early, the experienced pitcher and Thomas Johnson High School grad settled down nicely through the middle innings.
“We got a great performance out of Erik Brown,” said Frederick coach Tom Long. “We’ve still got things to work on, but we haven’t had everybody together and [Sunday] we had everybody together. We’re happy with our performance with the first game.”
In the bottom of the sixth, Damascus sidearmer Casey Paholski relieved starter Grant Dickey, who allowed four runs (two earned) on seven hits while walking one.
Unfortunately for Damascus, Paholski was erratic. The burly righty with the unusual delivery walked the first batter he faced and hit the next. After a strikeout, Post 11’s Matt Shook laid down a bunt that Paholski fielded and fired to first. Problem was, nobody was covering the bag as the first baseman also ran in to field the bunt. Second baseman Nick Kennedy arrived too late to receive the throw and it trickled by him, allowing a run to score.
The inning spiraled downhill from there as the next nine Frederick batters reached base safely by virtue of a hit a walk or error. Post 171 made three errors in the inning and the big blow was a two-run double off the bat of Frederick center fielder Brian Smith.
“We did leave some bases unoccupied defensively, and that’s something that has to be addressed,” said Damascus coach Tommy Davis. “That’s not helping the kid even when he makes a good pitch. Obviously, we can improve on that. The score doesn’t upset me or reflect on the first five innings.”
The inning ended not with Paholski recording the third out, but rather on Ian Foland’s sacrifice fly to center field that scored Frederick’s 10th run.
Shortstop Travis Phelps finished with three hits, two RBI and a run for Post 11 and added two more hits, two RBI and three runs in the second game.
Despite the rough sixth inning, Davis was encouraged by what he saw from his team in the first game.
“We’re a very good defensive team. We’re a team that seems to be aggressive at the plate. Pitching will be an issue. Right now, we’re pitching to contact and hoping our defense comes out strong. We don’t have any one guy who’s going to go out and close down a ballclub.”
Frederick Post 11 14, Damascus Post 171 4 (6 inn.)
Damascus Post 171 001 003 — 4
Frederick Post 11 (3-1) 11 011 0210 — 14
WP: Erik Brown LP: Casey Paholski. 2B — Frederick: Travis Phelps, Brian Smith (2), Matt Shook, Zach Woodward.