Cleveland Eliminates Baltimore
New champion to be crowed in 2012
August 10, 2012 -
The Chardon Blizzard accomplished a major milestone on their way to a possible first national championship by eliminating the 28-time and defending champions Baltimore at Point Stadium. The Blizzard scored early and kept the Orioles runless through eight innings to win the game and advance to the championship against New Brunswick with an unblemished 5-0 record. Isaiah Marsh is scheduled to start the championship bout for the Blizzard.
Cleveland starter Matt Clarke allowed only 5 hits to the powerful Baltimore squad while walking three and striking out two. His defense was solid behind him, committing no errors and turning two double-plays. Left-fielder Adam Urbania collected 5 fly balls, right-fielder Dan Belliveau caught 4 including a sliding grab in the third, and center-fielder Jack LaMarca caught two, including the final out of the game. Few teams have been capable of limiting the Baltimore offense so effectively, but the Blizzard were successful on the mound and in the field and earned the victory over the perennial favorites from Maryland.
Baltimore had two base runners in the fourth, as Brock Niggebrugge had a bloop single and Monte Wade was walked, but both were stranded on outfield flies. The Orioles had two on in the fourth, this time with no outs (Kevin Hockaday single and Ryan Ripken walk) but were retired on three consecutive fly outs. Baltimore stranded 6 in the game. From the fifth through the eighth, the only base runner for the Orioles came when Brady Sheetz was hit by a pitch. He was put out on a double play the next at bat.
"Their pitcher did a good job today," said Baltimore manager Tim Norris. "He wasn't overpowering, but he threw strikes, he pitched for contact, and he kept the ball down and shut us out for eight innings."
"His fastball is not overpowering," agreed Cleveland manager Don Navatsyk from South Fork, Pennsylvania, "but he throws three pitches for strikes and against guys like this, that's what you've got to do. You can't just throw fastballs because they'll hit it."
The first inning saw Cleveland jump out to a quick 2-0 lead. Phil Navatsyk led off with a single, but was out on a fielder's choice. With Jack LaMarca now at first, Dan Belliveau doubled to put two runners in scoring position. Andrew Frey flew out to right for the second out, scoring LaMarca from third. Patrick Ammar then singled, scoring Belliveau.
Cleveland added some crucial insurance runs in the fifth inning. Jim Jaksa led off with a single. Navatsyk's pop up was caught in foul territory for the first out. Jack LaMarca then doubled to centerfield, and Belliveau tripled to deep center, scoring both Jaksa and LaMarca. Dan Belliveau finished the game with 2 hits, 2 runs scored, and 2 runs batted in.
"I was just looking for a good pitch to hit," explained Belliveau. "He threw me a curveball and I just waited back and drove it."
The next batter--Andrew Frey--hit a hard shot to third baseman Hockaday who fielded the ball quickly and threw for home. Catcher Bencid had trouble handling the quick throw with Belliveau breaking for the plate, as Cleveland added their fifth run.
"We're a very free swinging team and it's awesome," said Belliveau. The Blizzard had scored 63 runs through this game. "A lot of guys on the team have adopted that mentality of--if he's going to give you a strike, you swing hard. Coach emphasizes bat speed all the time and we all just love it."
Orioles Late Comeback Falls Short
In the top of the ninth, the Blizzard were poised to be the first team since Detroit in 1994 to shut out Baltimore in the national tournament. But Youse's squad rallied for two runs to close the gap. Brendon Butler led with a walk and Kevin Hockaday singled to left field. Ryan Ripken was retired on a close play at first, but scored Baltimore's first run. Brady Sheetz grounded out back to the pitcher, also scoring a run. Pitcher Clarke injured his thumb on the play, resulting in a walk to Mikal Hill during the next at bat. That forced Isaiah Marsh in to close the game, and he ended it by getting Bencid to fly out to center field.
"It's hard to win up here," said Norris. "Cleveland brought a good club this year and they played well every game."