Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Post 41 closes in on Legion playoff berth

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With a full week of games left on its docket, the Cissel Saxon Post 41 baseball team had not yet locked up at berth in next week’s Montgomery Division American Legion tournament. But with four straight wins through Sunday, Post 41 remained in serious contention for the four-team postseason, which decides who will represent the county in the state tournament.

That four-game win streak included a doubleheader sweep of last year’s regular season champion, Laurel Post 60, Sunday at Good Counsel High. That moved Cissel Saxon, which just missed the tournament last year, to 9-10 in league play.

Behind the pitching of Travis Hart and Mark Abeles, a pair of Paint Branch High graduates, and an all-around offensive attack, Post 41 took the games from Laurel by the scores of 5-2 and 10-5.

‘‘I think we’re peaking at the right time,” manager Scott Dunlap said. ‘‘We had a little back luck in a few of our games. Today’s wins were just huge.”

The streak also included a 2-1, nine-inning victory over second-place Damascus Post 171 (14-7) Saturday.

Making Post 41’s run even more impressive has been the team’s lack of overall depth, due to injuries and absences due to vacation. Cissel Saxon had just nine players on hand against Damascus and one, Charles Brown, played despite being sick, going 2 for 4 and driving in the tying run.

‘‘We seem to play our best when we have nine or 10 guys show up,” Dunlap said. ‘‘Most of our kids are back. We’re really deep in our pitching staff. I feel pretty confident that if our starter can’t at least get me to the fifth inning, I probably have a pick of two or three other kids who can come in and help out and if I do mix up our pitching a little bit, we’re deep enough and versatile enough on defense that the kids can play different positions.”

Speaking of positions, Post 41 found itself sitting two games up in the win column against Sandy Spring Post 68 (7-11) for the final playoff spot behind Gaithersburg Post 295 (21-1), Damascus and Wheaton Post 268 (11-9).

‘‘We have to win out,” Dunlap said. ‘‘We can’t look for help from any other teams. Our destiny is in our own hands so if we win out, we’ll definitely be in the top four. ... I think it all comes down to winning games you’re supposed to.”