- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Calvert still clinches Frank Riley League title despite squandering numerous chances
By DALLAS COGLEStaff writer
Off the bat, it appeared Jayrese Jones had no chance of tracking down the crushed shot to the deepest part of the field.
But the La Plata Post 82 center fielder never gave up on the ball as he raced toward the fence with no hesitation.
And with a jaw-dropping, all-out dive with his back to the infield, Jones improbably hauled in what should have been a bases-loaded, extra-base hit for center field counterpart Darius Jones of Calvert Council posts 85, 206, 220 and 274 in Thursday’s American Legion showdown at La Plata High School between the Frank Riley League’s top two teams.
Jayrese Jones’ defensive heroics resulted in the rarest type of inning-ending double play in the fourth as La Plata would edge out first-place Calvert, 3-2.
Calvert pitcher Cody Robertson was automatically ruled out while running from first base when he bypassed teammate Kyle Schade at second during the deep blast from Darius Jones’ bat. Robertson forgot there was only one out and took off as soon as the bat cracked the ball.
Schade and Joe Sharkey tagged up from second and third once Jayrese Jones made the spectacular play. Sharkey even scored what turned out to be the game-tying second run for Calvert.
But the score was nullified once Robertson was called out on the base paths to end the inning, and that lost run wound up being extremely costly given the game was decided by the slimmest of margins.
“It was good overall communication. Jordan Twiford, our right fielder, just gave me a countdown before [I got to] the fence so I knew I could dive without injuring myself,” said Jayrese Jones, who, despite the spectacular nature of his full-extension catch, ranked it as his second-best web gem behind a diving catch in the Class 3A state semifinals in 2011 as a La Plata Warriors senior that helped win that game. “I thank God for that [catch against Calvert]. Honestly, I was just running and I got there.
“It feels good to beat [the league’s best team].”
The blown opportunity for Calvert due to Jayrese Jones’ defensive highlight epitomized the contest.
Calvert (20-5, 15-2 FRL) left 11 runners on base, seven of them in scoring position. Calvert put its leadoff man on base in all but the second inning, the only frame it had no runner in scoring position.
Time and time again, La Plata (21-7, 14-5) pulled one Houdini act after another to escape the six innings worth of jams.
“No,” La Plata closer Alex Calvert said of ever seeing a better catch than what Jayrese Jones pulled off. “That would’ve been No. 1 definitely [on ESPN’s top 10 web gems]. Twiford gave him a fence call, which was good, so he knew when he could dive.”
Clinging to a 3-1 lead in the final frame, La Plata brought in Calvert to close the door after fellow reliever Lachlan Whyte got through the sixth unscathed but struggled to start the seventh with a pair of walks. Calvert also issued a walk to the first batter he faced, loading the bases with none down.
But the La Plata pitcher was not rattled, fanning Darius Jones for the first out. Though Garrett Pope lifted an RBI sacrifice fly with one down to left to draw Calvert within 3-2, that was all the scoring the team managed in another wasted prime opportunity.
“I was just thinking that nobody can take this away from us,” Calvert added of his mindset in what was a sticky seventh.
Even Calvert Council’s seventh-inning run was hardly a sure thing as La Plata left fielder Jeremy Tayman rifled the ball home after snagging the sacrifice fly in medium depth. His perfect throw saw catcher Charlie Wright apply a quick tag to a hustling Schade, who was ruled to have touched the plate first on the bang-bang play.
While Calvert Council struggled with the big hit amid numerous scoring opportunities, La Plata was much more clutch with its fewer chances thanks in large to Tayman.
In the second with Calvert Council ahead 1-0, the left-swinging Tayman stroked a two-out triple off the southpaw Robertson to drive in both Troy Konzen and Calvert to give La Plata a 2-1 lead it would not relinquish.
Tayman’s deep shot to right-center field might have been caught on the run, but Darius Jones was not sure of where he was at in relationship to the fence and hesitantly put his glove out, the ball landing just beyond his leather.
“On that triple, I had my mind clear and it was a nice, smooth swing just like my dad always told me,” Tayman said.
In the fourth, Twiford delivered La Plata’s key two-out RBI single to score Tayman from second. Tayman was hit by a pitch with two outs, then stole second base. The insurance run was essential to the victory.
Despite Tayman’s impact on offense, his attention was still caught up in Jayrese Jones’ stellar play afterward. Tayman had a front row seat in the outfield to the majestic catch.
“I’ve seen him do quite a few of those [impressive catches]. He’s not afraid to do anything,” Tayman said of Jayrese Jones. “All you got to do is tell him, ‘You’re good [enough distance from the fence] and he’ll dive and do whatever he has to do to catch that ball.
“I did not think he was going to catch it. He’s a good player.”
La Plata head coach John Childers added, “Jayrese making that ridiculous catch in center field just kind of relaxed everybody. For the situation, that’s probably the best [catch] I’ve ever seen, being fully laid out like that.
“[Calvert] is full of Patuxent [High School] kids, who are really patient hitters, and they got us twice this year [in close ballgames] in high school season. And then they got us again almost the exact same way in our first game [of the summer Legion season].”
La Plata appeared to be headed to a season-opening win this summer, ahead 3-1 in the seventh when Calvert pushed across three game-winning runs for a 4-3 dramatic win.
“The center fielder made a great play out there, that was an awesome play,” Calvert head coach Cleon Jones said of Jayrese Jones. “We had plenty of chances to win the game, just couldn’t get the bunt down. If we get the bunts down, we probably win that game. [La Plata] was ready defensively.
As the league champion, Calvert is headed to the Legion state tournament in Frederick from July 31 to Aug. 4.
League runner-up La Plata is going to the All-American Amateur Baseball Association regional tournament in Altoona, Pa., beginning Saturday.
La Plata Post 82 3, Calvert Council posts 85, 206, 220, 274 2
Calvert 100 000 1 2 3 0
La Plata 020 100 x 3 6 1
WP Burgess, LP Robertson, Save Calvert
Extra-base hits: 2B Conley (C), Jones (C); 3B Tayman (LaP)