The Gaithersburg Giants Blue's final season in the Maryland Collegiate Baseball League was nearly its best. But the Baltimore Chop broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom fo the eighth inning and went on to win the league crown with a 4-3 victory on Friday night at Joe Cannon Stadium in Hanover.
Baltimore first baseman Garrett Sites delivered the decisive blow with a two-out RBI single that brought home the game-winning run.
The Giants began Friday evening by blowing out the Chop, 12-1, to force a second game in the championship round of the MCBL's double-elimination playoffs. In the second game, the Giants held leads of 2-0 and 3-2 following the first and fifth innings, respectively, but top-seeded Baltimore tied the score in the seventh on a two out single by Josh Sacks. After two pivotal outs recorded by Gaithersburg closer Kyle Hamby with a Baltimore runner in scoring position, Sites singled up the middle for what turned out to be the game-winning run.
“They got a hit in scoring position in a couple of situations and they got it done,” said Giants manager Jeff Rabberman, whose team will move to the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League next summer. “I don't think it's anything we didn't do. It was a lot of what they did. I'm super proud of my guys. That was a great night of baseball. It was a joy to be a part of.”
The Giants put the first game away in the top of the ninth. Leading 2-1 on run-scoring hits by Danny Freshley and Kurtis Voytell in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, Gaithersburg erupted for 10 runs on eight hits and an error, including a three-run double by pinch hitter Jay Graham for the final 11-run margin. Fifteen Giants stepped to the plate and nine runs were scored before the first out in the ninth.
Gaithersburg then started the nightcap with a two-run double by Voytell in the first inning. The Giants loaded the bases again in the second inning on two singles and one of many walks — intentional or otherwise — issued to Gaithersburg slugger Brandon Grove but they didn't push across another run until the fifth inning.
The Chop walked Grove seven times in the two games, and the Giants drew 14 walks overall, with most of those being strategic intentional walks or free passes issued with the intent of avoiding batters such as Grove and Voytell. Grove rarely saw a fastball in the two games after homering and doubling in his team's win against the Gaithersburg Giants Red Thursday.
“They got timely hits and we didn't,” Voytell said. “They walked a lot of people. It's frustrating when you have the meat of your lineup coming up and they just walk everybody. It was pretty frustrating that they did that but there's nothing you can do, it's just baseball.”
Trailing 2-0, the Chop scored single runs in the third and fourth innings on a sacrifice fly by Michael Marsh and a wild pitch to knot the score at 2-2. The Giants re-established the lead in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Graham before Sacks' single tied the score again in the seventh.
“I thought we had them,” said Giants left fielder Kenny Beyer, who had two hits, two walks and a run batted in combined in the two games. “When we scored that many runs in the last inning like that, I thought there was no shot we'd lose. Then we come out and score two … and I thought we had this one in the book but we failed to put up a couple of runs in a couple of situations and they took advantage.”
Gaithersburg Giants Blue 12, Baltimore Chop 1
Giants (24-11) 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 10 — 12 13 3
Chop (25-10) 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 — 1 5 2
WP — Joe Harrington. LP — Luke Sheehan. 2B: Giants — Brandon Grove, Tommy Gilchrist, Jay Graham. 3B: Danny Freshley. RBI: Giants — Jay Graham 3, Danny Freshley 2, Ryan McGuigan 2, Carter Bidwick, Brandon Grove, Kurtis Voytell, Kenny Beyer. Chop — Josh Sacks.
Baltimore Chop 4, Gaithersburg Giants Blue 3
Giants (24-12) 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 — 3 6 2
Chop (26-10) 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 x — 4 8 0
WP — Ryan Taylor. LP — Kyle Hamby. 2B: Giants — Kurtis Voytell. RBI: Giants — Kurtis Voytell 2, Jay Graham. Chop — Josh Sacks, Garrett Sites, Michael Marsh.