Baseball: Catamounts upset in Region XX Championship
By Michael Minnich- Mineral Daily News Tribune
BEL AIR, MD—Potomac State, plus Harford, equals shootout.
Even though school is out for the summer on both campuses, that simple math problem ruled the final two days of the Region XX baseball tournament, as the schools played three high-scoring games to determine who would advance to the Eastern District tournament at USC Sumter on May 16-18.
But, for just the fourth in the last 15 years, the Region XX title will not come back to Keyser, as the Catamounts (38-13-1) lost twice on Sunday by scores of 19-15 and 13-10 to end their season.
It was just the second time all season, and the first since March 1, that the Catamounts lost consecutive games.
On Saturday, the Catamounts saw an early 5-0 lead fall by the wayside, only to come back and win 11-10 on Jamison Jones’ RBI double in the bottom of the eighth.
Jones finished 5-for-6 with two doubles, a home run, and three RBIs, scoring two runs.
PSC built that lead in the bottom of the first: Jones and Billy Sager singled, then Elliott McCummings reached on an error to load the bases.
After a fielder’s choice erased Jones at the plate, Tre Porter drove in two with an single, then Adam Meeker launched a 3-run home run.
Harford got two back in the second inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Cats re-established their five-run lead on an RBI single by Sager and an error.
Both teams scored a run in the fifth, with PSC’s coming on an RBI single by Jones to move the lead to 8-3.
Harford then scored three in the sixth and five in the seventh to take a 10-8 lead.
Potomac State rallied to tie the score on solo home runs by Sager and Jones in the bottom of the seventh before lightning halted play for an hour.
In the eighth, Fraser Brown and Andrew Kowalo singled with two outs, and Jones obliged with a double to left field, plating pinch-runner Jamaal Windom.
Kyle Elliott pitched two scoreless innings of relief to pick up the win.
Harford then defeated Chesapeake, 11-1, to move into Sunday’s championship round: they needed two wins, PSC one.
The second meeting in Sunday’s championship round was even more of a offensive bonanza.
It started simply enough: Potomac State took a 2-0 lead on Porter’s sacrifice fly and Meeker’s RBI single in the first inning.
Connar Bastaich’s single with the bases loaded increased the advantage to 3-0 after two innings.
Harford put up five runs in the third inning to take the lead.
The Cats halved that deficit on an RBI double by Andrew Kowalo, but Harford scored right back in the top of the fourth to lead 6-4.
The only consecutive zeroes of the game came in the bottom of the fourth and top of the fifth.
Then PSC sent 15 batters to the plate in the bottom of the fifth.
Kowalo scored Alex Levitan with a single, then Sager’s base knock tied the score at 6-6.
A passed ball brought Sager home with the go-ahead run.
McCummings, who had reached on a single, scored on a Bastaich hit, and Meekr followed up two batters later with an RBI single of his own; Potomac State led, 9-6.
Harford scored four runs in the sixth to go back on top, 10-9, then PSC tied the score again on a Kowalo RBI double in the sixth.
Harford then exploded for four runs in both the seventh and eighth innings, giving them 12 in just three frames.
Down eight, the Catamounts didn’t quit, mounting a rally in the bottom of the eighth with patience.
With the bases loaded and one out, McCummings drew a walk to force in a run, then Bastaich did the same.
Porter’s two-RBI double cut the deficit to 18-14, then walks to Meeker and Eddie Dutkewycz forced in another run.
But Levitan, who had started the inning with a single, flied out and Kowalo grounded into a force out to end the inning: Harford 18, Potomac State 15.
Harford added an insurance run in the top of the ninth.
Down to their last out, the Catamounts got base runners when McCummings was hit by the pitch and Bastaich walked, but Porter struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch to force a second—and decisive—championship game between the two schools.
That contest provided more of the same: offense, and more offense.
Like Saturday, PSC took a 5-0 lead early.
Bastaich had an RBI single and Meeker a sacrifice fly in the first inning, then in the second, Kowalo scored on a wild pitch and Bastaich smacked a two-RBI double.
Harford matched that with five runs in the third inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Catamounts scored two runs on a Porter single, then Daniel Kerwin knocked him home with a single.
Potomac State led, 8-5, after four innings.
Harford scored two in the top of the fifth, but an error handed PSC a run in the bottom of the fifth.
Harford got back within a run with a single tally in the top of the sixth, making it a 9-8 game.
Then, all quiet until the bottom of the eighth: Kowalo worked a one-out walk, then Jones followed with an RBI double to give PSC more of a cushion.
Kyler Brown and Jamie Miller kept Harford at bay in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, and handed off to Dalton Westfall.
Westfall, who went the distance to start PSC’s tournament with a win on Friday, did not fare nearly as well this time, getting tagged for five runs, four earned, in 1/3 of an inning; Cody Brittain’s bases-clearing double was the major blow.
Harford led, 13-10, going to the bottom of the ninth.
In the bottom of the ninth, Bastaich walked, then was erased on a Porter fielder’s choice.
Meeker struck out swinging, with Porter stealing second, then Daniel Kerwin went down looking to end the game—and the season—for the Catamounts.