Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Damascus legion settles into second spot

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The Damascus Post 171 American Legion baseball team entered the final week of regular season Montgomery Division play with a singular goal in mind: Hold onto second place.

Despite dropping back-to-back decisions to Cissel Saxon Post 41 (2-1 nine innings) and Gaithersburg Post 104 (13-5 score) this past weekend, Post 171 (17-7, 14-7 in the Montgomery Division) found themselves a full three games in the win column ahead of third-place Wheaton Post 268 (11-9 Montgomery Division) at the start of this week that had Post 171 scheduled to play six games.

‘‘We’ve held on to [second place] basically most of the year and we don’t have any plans of letting it slip away,” first-year Post 171 manager Tommy Davis said. ‘‘We’ll take each game separate and each game is important. We’re looking to finish up this week on a winning note and we definitely want to secure that second seed.”

That No. 2 seed would give Post 171 home-field advantage for the first round of the four-team Montgomery Division tournament, which is set to start next Tuesday. It would play the No. 3 seed in that opening game, which would be Post 268 right now, a squad Damascus has beaten two of out three times this season. After falling 9-5 to Wheaton May 28, Post 171 worked wins of 17-3 June 3 and 1-0 July 3.

Through Sunday, Gaithersburg Post 295 (21-1 Montgomery Division) will be the top seed barring a stunning collapse while Cissel Saxon Post 41 (9-10 Montgomery Division) and Sandy Spring Post 68 (10-13, 7-11 Montgomery Division) are battling for the third and fourth seeds with Wheaton.

‘‘We need to pick it up a little bit,” Davis said. ‘‘We created some nice space early in the year but the last couple of ballgames, we’re not firing on all cylinders. We need a little bit of work. We look like we’re healthy. We were little nicked up. [Mike] Serafinas is coming back into the lineup. We’re confident we can get things turned around a little bit.”

Despite its recent woes, Damascus was playing well, having won eight of its prior 10 games, behind the hitting of A.J. Bowman (.410, 11 RBI), Lee Hertel (.405, 10 RBI), Tom Gilchrist (team-best 20 RBI), Alejandro Colon-Acevedo (three home runs) and Serafinas (four home runs) and the pitching of former Sherwood High hurlers Drew Hoffmaster (3-0, 1.15 ERA) and Kyle Blackwell (4-1, 2.53 ERA).

Bowman, a rising junior at Good Counsel, batted .444 with 15 runs scored, 13 RBI, eight extra-base hits and 10 stolen bases for the Falcons’ junior-varsity team this past spring.

‘‘A.J. Bowman is striking the ball real well,” Davis said. ‘‘Hertel is playing well defensively. He’s really made a difference for us. He’s settled in at shortstop [with Serafinas out].”