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Ray Michael made history as the third manager in his family to claim a Coors Charles-St. Mary’s Baseball League championship title.
He did so after leading the Bumpy Oak Bombers to a 10-7 victory over the St. Mary’s Door on Sept. 16 at Rainbow Construction Field in La Plata.
Michael’s grandfather, Mike Michael, and father, Jerry Michael, also led the Bombers down this road. Bumpy Oak has won seven championships in the last 11 years. They’ve also won eight regular-season championships.
“We got fortunate with how things unfolded in the playoffs, though, as Bryans Road forfeited to us in the first round of the playoffs, and we were rested playing St. Mary's in the winner’s bracket,” Ray Michael said. “We only had to win two games and had our best pitcher Billye Hollister at full strength to pitch for both games, but St. Mary's, after a difficult regular season, really came to play in the playoffs, and played us pretty tough both games.”
In the championship game, Billye Hollister started on the mound for Bumpy Oak and St. Mary’s started Greg Conden, who had just thrown a complete nine-inning game the Saturday before.
Bumpy Oak took a 3-0 lead after the first inning helped by a two-run home run by Ben Sobocinski.
Conden put St. Mary’s on the scoreboard with a solo home run. Bumpy Oak’s Darren Sanders hit a two-run homer in the bottom half of the inning, putting his team up 6-1.
“Conden settled into the game and was very difficult to hit,” Ray Michael said. “We didn’t score again until we scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead.”
In the top of the third, St. Mary’s batter Lyle Kralie was hit by a pitch and Justin Rabon followed with a single. A Jay Turen sacrifice bunt and Jason Bean’s RBI single down the left field line brought in two runs.
With the score 6-3, Bumpy Oak got out of the jam and ended the inning with a double play off of the bat of Ryan D’Antuono.
Bumpy Oak had a runner in scoring position on third base in the fourth, but Conden prevented any scoring.
It was the top of the fifth when St. Mary’s took a one-run lead. Hollister started the inning walking the first two batters. A bunt by Turen loaded the bases with no outs.
On Bean’s RBI double down the right field line, those two walks scored. With St. Mary’s trailing just 6-5, Chris D’Antuono worked the count and took a walk and Ryan D’Antuono singled up the middle to bring in the tying run.
The bases were loaded again, still with no outs. Bumpy Oak fielded a double play but gave up a run and St. Mary’s took the 7-6 lead as Bean scored the go-ahead run. Two pitches later, Ryan D’Antuono tried to steal third but was caught.
“Both pitchers got into a bit of a groove,” Ray Michael said. “Billye Hollister limited St. Mary’s and Bumpy Oak got around two mildly troublesome innings with one double play groundball and after a leadoff walk in another inning, our third baseman Aaron Michael was able to throw out the lead runner on a bunt attempt another inning to thwart any scoring threat.”
Ray Michael said his team’s best chance at scoring since the second came in the bottom of the sixth when JB Sapienza led off with a single and hit a ball down the third base line, but Bean at third base backhanded the ball and helped turn a nice double play to end Bumpy Oak’s rally.
Bumpy Oak took an 8-7 lead in the bottom of the eighth after John Lee’s single up the middle put him on base and Bobby Connolly hit a two-ball, one-strike fastball into the trees in right field for a two-run home run. With Ryan Baione on base, Sobocinski hit his second home run of the game, putting Bumpy Oak up 10-7.
Conden led off the top of the ninth for St. Mary’s with a single to right field, but a comebacker to Hollister turned into a double play. It was the fifth double play turned by Bumpy Oak on the afternoon.
Kralie walked with two outs, but Rabon ended up popping a ball up to the infield that Sobocinski at second base caught in the air for the final and championship-clinching out.
“We won the winner’s bracket game [the previous week] 8-1, but we made a ton of good defensive plays and were able to get our running game going and tack on extra runs that were harder to come by in the championship game,” Ray Michael said, “but the power hitters in our lineup won out in the championship game with the four home runs accounting for eight of our 10 runs, and we played really good defense both weekends.”
He added, “St. Mary’s played us very tough, and I tip my cap to how hard they competed against us and in particular the pitching performance from Greg Conden in the championship game.”