Excited to play again after the Fourth of July holiday and Mother Nature forcing some postponements, La Plata Post 82 and St. Mary’s Post 255 faced off in an American Legion baseball doubleheader on Wednesday night Chancellor’s Run Regional Park in Great Mills.
St. Mary’s was ready to go and showed it by getting out to a 6-1 lead heading into the seventh and final inning of Game 1. La Plata was able to rally for three more runs in the top of the seventh, but it was not enough as St. Mary’s held on 6-4 and it would rally back from a 6-1 deficit in Game 2 to sweep La Plata, 7-6.
“It was actually really easy to pitch today because the offense gave me a really good chance to win,” said Cole Tarleton, a rising Leonardtown High School junior who pitched 6 2/3 innings to get the win in Game 1. “I got a lot of run support. That makes it easier, and especially with the defense being so strong behind me, it just allows me to go out there and throw strikes. And if they hit it, I know my teammates will make the plays.
“Their pitcher Brandon DeAtley did a really good job of mixing it up, so it was kind of just staying on the ball and trying to hit it right back where it came from. I was really liking my two-seam fastball today. They were popping it up a lot actually, so it was easy outs. When I need an out, I like a two-seam fastball. I think we have a very good shot to make a very deep run in the playoffs and finish out strong.”
St. Mary’s head coach Steve Zumpano was proud of the Game 1 victory over rival La Plata.
“If you look at the standings, La Plata and us are the two best teams so far through the year,” Zumpano said. “They are always tough and I just can’t say enough about what Cole Tarleton did. He went out and threw six and two-thirds for us. He gave us a shot. Our offense came up with some big hits with two outs. We scored a couple of good runs. We came out and we kept aggressive at the plate and put some runs up.
“With the rainouts, it is hard to build momentum, so now we are stacked up with five games in three days. If we can get better mentally and understand situations, physical errors happen, but mentally is what I’m pushing. These guys know how to play the game. Our goal is to represent our district at states in Cumberland.”
St. Mary’s took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Derrick Zumpano started a two-out rally with a bunt single, followed by Nolan Wood reaching on an error then John Callaghan walked to load the bases. Chase Ogden smacked a two-RBI single to score Brendan Dziekiewicz, Derrick Zumpano’s courtesy runner, and Wood.
La Plata got one run back in the top of the third, trimming the deficit to 2-1. Derrick Musser led off with a single, stole second and came home on Patrick Estevez’s RBI single.
St. Mary’s added to its lead in the fourth, making the score 3-1 when Wood scored on a La Plata error.
Up 5-1 after two more runs in the fifth, Cameron Clarke’s RBI single in the sixth gave St. Mary’s its final run of the game as La Plata swapped DeAtley for Musser on the mound.
“It felt good,” DeAtley said. “I was pitching with a different ball to warm up with than I had on the mound. But it felt pretty good. I just couldn’t find my curveball. The fastball was working pretty well against them. I like to throw a change-up. It felt good, although we kind of thought, the whole team, that it was the sixth inning not the seventh. We want to try to better ourselves for next year for high school.”
La Plata was far from finished as the game headed into the top of the seventh.
Before Tarleton was relieved on the mound by Drew Weller, La Plata scored on a St. Mary’s error. Weller then gave up a two-RBI double to Zach Harris to make it 6-4, but Clarke made a play at first for the final out, giving St. Mary’s the win.
“The boys never gave up, they almost got them,” said La Plata assistant coach Tim Drummond, who was filling in for head coach Dave Harris on Wednesday. “We are a young group and we were shorthanded today. In that first game, we only had nine, this game we will have 10. But that’s what this league is all about, learn from your mistakes.”
Game 2 seemed to be ending opposite of the first when La Plata was leading 6-1 in the top of the sixth. Zach Harris had thrown five innings for La Plata with six strikeouts, but St. Mary’s came back to win 7-6.
The bottom of the seventh inning started off with an error which was followed by a walk then a hit by pitch to load the bases. Two strikeouts put St Mary’s in a tough situation with two outs and the bases still loaded.
Gavin Tippett cleared the bases with a double. A base hit from Ogden added another run, a hit from Clarke scored a runner, then a throw went back to first base and got past the first baseman and the winning run came home unearned.
“It just showed resilience on our team, and showed that they could hold their composure and come back,” St. Mary’s assistant coach Tyler Kimmey said. “We had our backs against the wall. That’s a lot of runs you have to score. Each batter came up and we gained more and more confidence as a team. We were a little worried and had used four pitchers in the game. We were just trying to make it respectful at that point. It was a great way to end the day.”