And the undisputed Mid-Maryland Semi-Pro Baseball League champion is … the Frederick Flying Dogs.
After winning the regular season crown, the Flying Dogs captured the team’s fourth playoff title in the past five years through an unconventional doubleheader sweep at Tuscarora High School Sunday afternoon.
The best-of-three final against the Carroll Spartans started on Thursday, but the opening game was suspended with one out in the sixth inning due to lightning. So the teams finished Game 1 on Sunday before the start of the second game. On Thursday, Frederick rallied for four runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game 8-8 and still had the bases loaded when play was halted.
The Flying Dogs then erupted for three more runs in the top of the eighth on back-to-back run-scoring doubles by Chris Fulda and Galen Morres and a run-scoring single by Hank Adams for an 11-8 victory.
The Flying Dogs then jumped out to a 4-0 advantage through two innings of game two en route to a comfortable 10-3 victory and a trip to next week’s National Amatuer Baseball Federation regional tournament in Salisbury. They reached the regional final a year ago.
“We needed that win,” Frederick third baseman Steve Shriner said of the suspended-game victory. “It was very important. Coming out Thursday, they had the momentum and then coming in here to our ballpark, it was great to get on top. We just needed that first one to cruise into the second game [with ace pitcher Matt Buchholz set to start]. It was very important to get that first it.”
Shriner’s performance at the plate was one of the main reasons why the Flying Dogs cruised through the second game as he went 3 for 4 with a double and six runs batted in.
He knocked in two with a two-out single in the first inning and added a three-run double in the team’s four-run fourth inning that gave Frederick an 8-2 lead. Shriner followed with a run-scoring single in the fifth to push the lead to the final seven-run margin.
“Last year I think went the whole regular season with one loss [but fell in the tournament semifinals] ... we just didn’t play well in the playoffs so I thought we were able to keep our intensity up this time, especially after going down 8-4 the first half of the first game Thursday,” said Frederick player-manager Nick Collingham. “I think that helped change our mindset so we were able to come out today and come back in that first game and then take the momentum back into the second game.”
While Shriner provided much of the offense Sunday, Buchholz was steady on the mound once again, picking up both wins. He worked three scoreless innings of relief in the suspended game and then the first five innings of the second game before succumbing to muscle cramps in the heat and humidity that marked the sun-splashed day. Tim Martin tossed two scoreless innings in relief to close out the second game.
Although not as sharp as usual, Buchholz struck out five and held Carroll to three runs on six hits in the second game. Only one batter reached base during the suspended game against Buchholz and that was on an error.
“The heat and the humidity was the hardest part and just hitting and running the bases — it took its toll. I was cramping up a little bit in the end but yeah, I got the job done,” said Buchholz, who would not have pitched in the suspended game had the Flying Dogs not rallied. “It feels great. Last year, we lost in the semifinals. The team brought a lot of intensity and put the pressure on them all day long. It worked out for us.”
Frederick Flying Dogs 10, Carroll Spartans 3
Carroll (19-12) 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 — 3 8 2
Frederick (31-6) 3 1 0 4 2 0 x —10 10 0
WP — Matt Buchholz (9-0). LP — Cameron Cox. 2B: Carroll — Brandon Nelson 2. Frederick — Galen Morres, Steve Shriner, Hank Adams. RBI: Carroll — Kyle Rivera, Brandon Nelson, Nick Hallis. Frederick — Steve Shriner 6, Matt Buchholz, Ryan Morse, Galen Morres.