While lighting flashed in the distance, Sandy Spring Post 68 first baseman Sean Wahelan emerged from the dugout holding two baseball gloves above his head. He crouched down, sporting his new antler/ear hybrids and ran around in right field.
What better way to pass the time during a thunderstorm delay than some impromptu buck hunting?
In a game where Sandy Spring appeared as relaxed during the game as it did throughout two separate lightning delays followed by a longer delay during a downpour, Post 68 downed Cissel Saxon Post 41, 10-0 in seven innings, in Tuesday’s first round of the double-elimination Maryland American Legion state tournament at McCurdy Field in Frederick. Sandy Spring advances to play Wicomico Post 64 at 4 p.m. Wednesday, while Cissel Saxon faces Columbia Post 300 at 9 a.m. in an elimination game.
Tuesday’s meeting was the fourth between the two teams in a two-week span and the seventh this season. Sandy Spring has won five of them.
“This game took forever. It was the never-ending game. It was tough with all the rain delays,” Post 68 assistant coach Matt Cangas said.
Left-hander Kelby Spring started for Post 68 and threw five scoreless innings. He might have gone longer if not for the first two delays. After the second stoppage, Spring attempted to pitch the sixth, but he threw one strike in seven pitches to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Kevin Stein -- who went 3 for 4 at the plate with a double, two runs and two RBI -- relieved the lefty, but wasn’t able to throw a pitch before the field was hit with a heavy downpour delaying the game for another 1:09. That makes a total delay time of 2:20.
“Coming into the game, you would think it’s easy because you’ve played them so many times, but it’s difficult. We had to map out our gameplan,” Cangas said.
Spring, a lefty, mixed his slider and curveball with great efficiency and finished with five strikeouts. He walked two, allowed five hits and threw 87 pitches (58 for strikes).
“They get to know your pitchers and hitters. It makes the game interesting because you know what to expect,” Spring said. “I performed against them before and I knew I could do it again.”
Following the third delay of the evening, Cissel Saxon loaded the bases with nobody out against Stein, but the right-hander worked out of the jam by inducing a fly ball to right that Sean Van Geison threw to first to double off Luke Olson.
Sandy Spring -- which earned its place in the tournament with a play-in game win Saturday -- struck in the second inning against Olson, Post 41’s starter, when Peter Garland chopped a ball down the third-base line that squeaked by the outstretched glove of Andy McWilliams. The single scored two runs and Garland later scored on a wild pitch to cap the three-run second.
Post 68’s big blow, literally, came in the bottom of the fifth when Sean Van Geison ripped an offering from Olson high over the left-field fence that bounced and landed in the street. The two-run blast put Sandy Spring up 7-0. They tacked on three more in the top of the seventh.
Olson went five innings and allowed seven runs on 11 hits. The sidearmer struck out one, walked one and threw 74 pitches (50 strikes). He was relieved by righty Chase Hunt following the second delay.
After the first 38-minute delay, the teams squeezed in two outs sandwiched by a base hit by Post 41 before more lightning flashed in left and center field, delaying the game again.
Sandy Spring Post 68 10, Cissel Saxon Post 41 0 (7 inn.)
Sandy Spring Post 68 032 020 3 -- 10 15 1
Cissel Saxon Post 41 000 000 0 -- 0 7 1
WP: Kelby Spring. LP: Luke Olson. 2B: Post 68 -- Corey Craig, Kevin Stein. HR: Post 68 -- Sean Van Geison.