Following a dominant performance against a cross-county rival, Mount Airy Gold Star Post 191 coach Kenny Keith didn't sound like a manager on the winning side of a 10-0 victory.
“I thought they played well. They played flawless baseball. We didn't make any errors, we pitched and we hit,” Keith said. “That's the recipe for victory. Unfortunately, we just don't do it enough. I can't get a read on these guys or a sense from these guys, ever.”
The five-inning win, Mount Airy's first this season against FSK Post 11, featured an early barrage from Post 191 and a solid pitching performance by right-hander Matt Connelly.
Still, Keith has been underwhelmed with his team's inconsistent play this season. Mount Airy improved to 4-5 in league play with Tuesday's win, which came one day after an 11-1 loss to Funkstown.
“I've tried everything [to motivate them]. I've tried yelling at them. I've built them up, I've put them down. There's not much more I can do,” Keith said. “They have to want to do it themselves and play with pride. That's what it boils down to.”
Post 191 has no shortage of capable players as it boasts All-Gazette Player of the Year Ryan Milburn, as well as first-teamer Tyler Beckwith and second-teamers Kevin Kopas and Nick Pfeifer.
“[Tuesday] they didn't do anything fancy, they didn't do anything fantastic, they just went out and played,” Keith said.
Connelly was poised through five effective shutout innings. He danced around danger as FSK put a runner on base in every inning but the fifth, and he was aided by double plays that ended the third and fourth innings. In the third, Pfeifer started a beautiful 4-6-3 double play, and in the fourth, Kopas caught a line drive at first base and doubled off the runner.
“It was pretty good,” Milburn said. “All we needed to do were the fundamentals. Basic stuff. That's what we did.”
Connelly finished with 64 pitches and allowed three hits. He struck out two and walked three. His only real danger came in the second when Post 11 loaded the bases with two outs, but Connelly got Matt Myers to fly out to escape the inning.
Is his previous start against Frederick, Connelly allowed four runs on six hits and walked four over five innings in a 4-3 loss.
“He goes out there and as long as he throws strikes, they don't seem to hurt him for some reason,” Keith said. “They can't pick the ball up very well with him.”
Mount Airy's offense set the tone from the start as its first four batters reached base. FSK Post 11 starter Erik Brown walked Connelly before Beckwith singled and Pfeifer walked to load the bases with nobody out. That prompted a mound visit from coach Tom Long, but it wasn't much help. Kopas singled to left and the ball skipped past left fielder Brian Smith, allowing all three runners to score. Bobby Clarke later hit a sacrifice fly that scored Kopas to make it 4-0.
Brown never settled into a rhythm and was lifted by Long with one out in the second inning after he allowed back-to-back doubles. Reliever Nick Baker didn't fare much better as he lasted only one inning and was removed after hitting back-to-back batters with one out in the third inning.
Post 11 pitchers walked five batters on the evening and hit six.
“In my nine years of coaching Frederick American Legion baseball, we've never hit six batters,” Long said. “You're gonna have nights like this, I'm just glad it's not in the state tournament.”
Mount Airy tacked on single runs in the third, fourth and fifth to close the game.
Mount Airy Gold Star Post 191 10, Frederick FSK Post 11 0 (5 inn.)
Frederick FSK Post 11 000 00 — 0 3 2
Mount Airy Post 191 431 11 — 10 8 0
WP: Matt Connelly. LP: Erik Brown. 2B: Post 191 — Tyler Beckwith, Ryan Francheshina, Kevin Kopas. Post 11 — Michael Omelchenko, Matt Myers.