Over the last two weeks, while his players faced one another in a seven-game intra-squad scrimmage that ended last Saturday afternoon, College of Southern Maryland baseball coach Aaron Michael found himself in the ultimate position of neutral observer for that series.
While his players were divided evenly among two squads — “Black” and “Gold” — Michael stood immediately behind the pitching mound to serve as home plate and base umpire through all seven games. After facing a two-games-to-none and then three-games-to-one deficits, the Black team rallied to win the series over its Gold counterpart by taking the last three games, including both on Saturday.
“The best part about it for me is that I get to see all of my pitchers,” said Michael, whose team was 11-5 last spring until the season was nixed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “It gives the guys a good chance to see some real competition and we didn’t have to travel. Our AD [Michelle Ruble] wanted us to keep it to 25 players, total, so we’e had 11 guys in each dugout throughout this whole series and we had good weather for it.”
CSM’s split-squad Gold team arrived last Saturday with a 3-2 lead in the series and led 4-3 heading to the bottom of the sixth inning of game six needing just six outs to close out the series. But the Black Hawks rallied by getting four runs in the home half of that frame as Francis Segarra had a two-run double and Ethan Zorba later added a two-run single and Segarra got the win in relief while McDonough High School graduate Austin Simms collected the save.
There was considerably less drama in the decisive seventh game, however, as the Black team scored five runs in the second, four of which were unearned, then added four more runs in the third en route to an 11-3 victory. It was an odd, lopsided finale to a series that had featured a handful of close games in the two weeks of competition.
CSM’s baseball program has always benefited from a number of quality players from Southern Maryland Athletic Conference schools and Simms is only one of them. McDonough graduate Trevor Drummond, a second-season sophomore — the NJCAA did not count 2020 against athletes in lieu of the pandemic — enjoyed the intra-squad action and is looking forward to a 2021 spring season.
“It’s great being able to get out here and play with these guys,” Drummond said. “We had started off last spring really well until they postponed it. When they gave us the season back, I decided to stay one more year and then focus on going to a four-year school next year. We have a really good team and I’m anxious to get the season started next spring.’
CSM freshman Robbie Stone III, a 2020 Patuxent High School graduate, also enjoyed taking part in the series as a member of the Black Hawks squad. Stone was among the hundreds of SMAC seniors whose spring season was usurped from them by COVID-19, but he did have several chances to hone his skills last summer with the Calvert Crusaders.
“I thought it was great being able to play these scrimmages,” Stone said. “It was good competition with a lot of guys who love playing. It was tough not being able to have a senior season last spring. But I can’t wait to get back on the field with these guys next spring.”
CSM freshman Mikey Guy, a 2020 St. Mary’s Ryken High School graduate who played last summer with the Pomfret Pirates in the Charles & St. Mary’s County baseball league, honed his skills in the field at third base and at the plate during the seven-game series with the Gold Hawks.
“It’s really been a lot of fun playing with these guys,” Guy said. “It was a good chance for everyone to get to know each other and learn to play together. It was definitely not the ideal situation not being able to have a senior year last spring. But we’re all hopeful that we can play next spring and finish the season without any type of lockdown.”