Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Gaithersburg Post 104 Legion baseball wins county

Pitching of Kevin Brady and Bobby Kim leads Gaithersburg 104 over Damascus, helps secure team’s first state tournament berth since 2001

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Charles E. Shoemaker⁄The Gazette
Gaithersburg Post 104’s Michael Rudin gets a hand from a teammate while celebrating his team’s 9-1 victory over Damascus Post 171 in the Montgomery County American Legion championship game on Sunday. Post 104’s Kevin Brady struck out 14 batters in the win.
‘‘If Kevin [Brady] and Bobby [Kim] are on, we should win.”

Gaithersburg Post 104 manager Joe Stolz uttered that statement prior to last week’s Montgomery County American Legion baseball tournament and after three sterling performances turned in by Brady and Kim, Stolz looks like a genius.

Brady, The Gazette Player of the Year during the spring’s high-school season with Gaithersburg High, capped the string of well-pitched games with a complete-game, 14-strikeout effort during Sunday’s championship game at Damascus Regional Park to lead Gaithersburg to a 9-1 win over Damascus Post 171 and into this weekend’s Maryland State American Legion tournament.

‘‘My arm felt really live,” said Brady, who allowed one run in 14 innings of work last week with 25 strikeouts. ‘‘I felt like I was bringing it. I was hitting my spots.”

Brady (5-2, 1.77 ERA) limited Damascus (22-18), one of the county’s better hitting teams, to just two hits in those seven innings, allowing a single run in the fourth inning on a single by Alejandro Acevedo with Post 104 (20-11) out to a 6-0 lead.

Brady also dominated Gaithersburg Post 295 last Tuesday, working a 1-0 decision over the then four-time defending champions in a first-round game. The hard-throwing, right-handed pitcher allowed two hits and struck out 11 in seven innings.

Sandwiched between Brady’s starts, Kim, a rising sophomore pitcher at James Madison University (Va.), worked a complete-game shutout of Laurel Post 60 (20-11), the regular-season champions, last Thursday. The former Wootton High pitcher⁄shortstop scattered six hits over seven innings with six strikeouts. He also collected three hits and scored a run in the 3-0 victory.

‘‘We were really pumped up,” said Kim of himself and Brady. ‘‘I knew Kevin would do well in the first game and today and he did really well. I got lucky many, many times when I played Laurel but I still came out with a shutout. I thought that I pitched pretty well. I had a great defense behind me.”

Post 104, which last won the county tournament in 2001, will now play Greenbelt Post 136 (27-5), the Frank Riley League winner, at 12:30 p.m. at Thomas Stone High in Waldorf in a first-round match-up at the state tournament Friday. Post 104 has never won a state title.

‘‘The general attitude of the team was we were determined we were going to win this,” Stolz said. ‘‘After five innings against 295, [Brady said] ‘I’m going seven. You’re not taking me out.’ They were very determined they wanted to win this. I asked [Brady] after four or five innings [against Damascus] and he said, `I’m fine. I’m going seven.’

‘‘I told you if they’re on, we would win and that’s what they did to the max.”

Brady’s heroics Sunday weren’t entirely needed as Post 104’s potent offensive attack scored at least one run in five of the six innings it came to the plate, including four in the second inning to open up a 5-0 advantage and two more in the sixth to push the game out of reach.

‘‘I’ve been on this team for three years and we’ve lost in the championship game all three years,” said Post 104 catcher Richard Phillips, who went 2 for 3 with a run scored and a run batted in. ‘‘That leaves a bad taste in your mouth so it’s nice to win it.”

Phillips knocked in the first run of the game in the bottom of the first, singling in Mike Campos, who walked to start the inning. Post 104 followed with four more runs in the second inning on a two-run double by Matt Miller, a single by Alex Bastow and wild pitch that scored Bastow to make the score Gaithersburg 5, Damascus 0.

That lead grew to six runs in the third on a single by Anthony Howard and after Damascus struck for its lone run in the fourth, Post 104 scored once in the fifth when Miller was hit by a pitch and then twice in the sixth.

Post 171 went on to lose to Garrett County Post 71⁄214, 6-5, in 10 innings Monday in what was a state play-in game. The Mountain District, which Garrett County won, is comprised of just two teams this year, forcing Garrett to play an extra game to reach the state playoffs.

‘‘[Sunday] we ran into a good pitcher and today, a couple of errors here and there and they got a couple of hits,” Post 171 manager Dan Boyd said. ‘‘I’m happy about the season.”