Grays come up short in Federation title chase
BROOKVILLE — After a great seven-game series, the Sykesville Senators emerged as the Federation League champions after a 6-2 victory at McKinley Field Saturday night.
The Grays, who clawed their way back to a Game 7 after a devastating 14-1 Game 1 loss, could not cool Sykesville's bats enough to claim the title.
Brookville was able to keep Sykesville off the scoreboard for four innings behind Brandon Bell's pitching, but the Senators power could be contained for only so long.
"I thought we had opportunities, we just couldn't cash them in," said Grays manager Bob McCullough. "A great series, my hat's off to the Sykesville Senators; Paul Roman has a really good team and a good hitting team, he managed them really well."
Despite the final outcome, the Grays got off to a solid start.
The Senators went to the plate first. Starting pitcher Bell forced Ryan Gordon into a 5-3 out to open the contest. Bell wasted no time earning the second out, as he struck out the next batter, Jason Roman. Next up was consistent slugger Adam Fox.
He tallied the first hit of the game with a blast to left field that earned him a double. Kasey Clinton then stepped up to the plate.
Bell wasn't going to let the reigning league MVP do any damage with two outs, so he intentionally walked him. The strategy worked in Brookville's favor as Skyesville's next batter, Jonathon Weber, flew out to center field to keep the game scoreless.
The Grays opened the game slugging. Lead-off batter Mike Sedor crushed the second pitch he saw into deep left field, which was good enough for a double.
Sedor continued to be a terror at the plate all night, going a perfect 4-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI, a stolen base and a run scored. After Sedor, No. 2 batter Rick Shaffer struck out for the first out. Dan Walters then followed Sedor's example and blasted a double of his own, this time to right field, bringing his teammate across home plate.
Cole Cook then followed with a single to center field that put two runners on base. Eric Painter was the next batter to step up to the plate.
While he was at bat, Cook stole second. With runners in scoring position, Painter struck out for the second out. Kent Shick batted after that.
He looked to score both runners, but his smack to center field had too much air under it and was caught to end the inning, leaving Walters and Cook stranded. Brookville was on top 1-0.
The Sykesville bats did not fare any better in the second inning. Tom Hibbert opened with a grounder to first baseman Painter for the first out. Jesse Cogan then recorded his team's second hit with a crank to right field.
Jordan Weinzerl then bunted during his a bat to allowing Cogan to move up a bag. Weinzerl was thrown out 1-3 for out number two.
Cogan never made it home as Jude Lander grounded out for the third out. Brookville still had the 1-0 lead.
The Grays opened their second time to the plate with two quick outs to Dan Buzzard and Zac Roller.
The "storm" that McCullough spoke of the night before must have carried over with Korry Lindemuth, as he was sparked by a little two-out lightning. He smacked the ball to right field and reached first. He was replaced by pinch-runner Matt Isaac.
Sedor wasted no time bringing him home with his second double of the night to left field once again. Shaffer then flew out to center field for out number three. Brookville was up 2-0.
When Sykesville took to the plate for its third try, Shick took the opportunity to showcase his top-notch defensive work at third base that he displayed throughout the entire playoffs.
Gordon opened with a line drive that Shick didn't let get past him as he gloved it out of the air for the fist out. Roman then hit a line drive of his own, this time to Walters for the second out.
Fox then grounded to the right of third base, and Shick took to the dirt to make a diving stop, then a toss to Painter at first for the third out.
Walters opened Brookville's third go at the plate with a crank to right field. After Walter's hit, the Grays struggled from the plate the rest of the game. Cook was the next batter.
He grounded the ball to second which Sykesville turned into an impressive double play. Painter then provided the third out with a grounder of his own that didn't buy enough time to reach first.
Brookville's "D" held up one last time during the fourth inning. Clinton was Sykesville's first batter and was walked to reach first.
Weber then grounded to second baseman Sedor, which he turned into a double play. Bell then sent the Senators back to the field after he set down Hibbert after just three pitches.
The Grays could not generate any offensive momentum during their fourth try at the plate. After Shick was walked, Buzzard, Roller and Lindemuth were all put out in order.
Cogan opened the fifth inning for Sykesville being forced out 4-3. After that, Weinzerl was pegged by a pitch to reach first.
Lander then flew out to left field for the second out. Gordon stepped up to the plate next, and he decided the Senators should be silenced no longer.
He blasted a triple to deep center field that scored Sykesville its first run. Gordon was not on base for long, as Roman brought him home with his shot to center field.
Center field proved to be the sweet spot for Sykesville in the fifth as Fox delivered a shot there as well that scored brought Roman home. Fox gambled and tried to get two bases but was tagged out by Sedor.
He did, however, buy enough time for Roman to make it home to give Sykesville the 3-2 edge.
Sedor started off Brookville's third at bat with single. His hit was not enough to spark the Grays offense as Shaffer, Walters and Cook were all set down in order.
Ryan Barrett stepped in at the mound in the sixth inning to replace Bell. Bell pitched five innings, throwing two strikeouts, two walks and allowed three runs on five hits.
The first batter Barrett faced, Clinton smacked a double to deep left field. Weber was then walked to first.
After that, Hibbert smacked a short that was grabbed out of the air by Sedor but mis-thrown to first, allowing Clinton and Weber to move up a bag. Cogan then scored the Senators fourth run with his blast to right field.
Weinzerl was the next batter and while he was at the plate, Cogan stole second. Weinzerl and Barrett battled to a full count until he was eventually walked.
Cogan and Weinzerl were left stranded as Barrett minimized the damage and forced out Lander and Gordon for outs two and three, respectively. Sykesville had the 4-2 lead.
Brookville could not muster enough hits in the sixth to score any runs. Painter opened with a single to center field.
He was replaced by pinch-runner Joe Galbraith. Shick then popped up a shot that was caught by Weber.
After that, Buzzard grounded to second, which forced out Galbraith. Roller then grounded a ball, as well, to Sykesville pitcher Dan Wascovich for the third out.
Roman started things off for the Senators during their seventh go at the plate with a single to left field.
Fox was then walked to reach base as well. After that, Joe Culler replaced Barrett at the hill. Culler faced big-time slugger Clinton for his first batter. He battled Clinton to a full count and, in a rare feat, struck him out for the first out of the inning.
Weber was the next batter, and Culler battled him to a full count, then struck him out as well to give Brookville one last glimmer of hope for a seventh inning come back. Hibbert was the next batter to approach the plate.
He was the third batter in a row to be taken to a full. With a full count, two outs and two runners in scoring position, he crushed a clutch shot to center field that scored Roman and Fox, erasing Brookville's hopes at a comeback.
Cogan was the next batter, and he too was taken to a full count just to be walked. Weinzerl then flew out to right field for the third out. Sykesville had extended its lead to 6-2.
It began to rain during Brookville's final stand at the plate. Lindemuth was the first batter to head to the plate for the Grays. The rain did not benefit him as he smacked a line drive straight back to Wascovich for the first out.
Sedor was the next batter and he continued his hitting streak when he belted a shot to left field. He could not inspire his teammates to do the same as Shaffer struck out for the second out.
Walters then stepped up to the plate, Game 7, two outs, his team down four runs with one runner on base.
The odds were not in his favor as he smacked a shot to right field that was caught by Roman to end the 2012 Federation League playoffs.
The Sykesville Senators held on to their 6-2 lead to capture the Federation League title.