In just second year of existence, Eagles take C Conference baseball title

John Warner’s (left) eighth inning double, set the stage for Brandon Harris to single him home with what proved to be the game-winning run in the MIAA C Conference baseball championship game.

by Nelson Coffin

According to Concordia Prep coach Mike Murtha, starting pitcher Bryce Gregory “ran out of pitches” in the MIAA C Conference championship game against Indian Creek at Dutch Eyeth Field at McDonogh School in Owings Mills.

The sophomore right-hander was terrific in the game, which started on Monday and was postponed until Tuesday by inclement weather.

Gregory allowed just one earned run on five hits in six strong innings while fanning eight batters and walking three.

“Bryce is a battler,” Murtha said. “He came into the came with 60 strikeouts and just seven walks. It took him a little while to get used to the mound today, so he threw a 108 pitches, a lot more than he has at any time this season.”

It still wasn’t enough, because his freshmen counterparts — southpaw starter Travis Garnett and right-handed closer Evan Selmer — were even better in helping Indian Creek to a 3-2 eight-inning victory and the program’s first title in just its second year of operation.

Garnett fanned nine in seven innings of work while being touched for one earned run on two hits. The lanky lefty also walked three and hit a batter while maxing out at 84 mph on the radar gun.

The showdown between the top teams in the C Conference seemed to buttress the old axiom about how difficult it is to beat a team three times in a season, considering that the Saints swept the season series, 7-1 and 11-6, from the Eagles.

“We were able to make him (Garnett) throw a lot of pitches in the first game,” Murtha recalled.

“He threw 70 pitches in three innings, and we made eight errors,” Indian Creek coach Matt Selmer said. “And the second time we had the lead after five innings, but we made five errors in that game, too.”

Both teams were much better in the field in the finale, with minor exceptions that led to unearned runs for each starter.

Concordia Prep (10-4) broke through in the bottom of the first when shortstop Evan Shertzer singled to right and went to second when third baseman Luke Nelson was hit by a pitch.

After a double steal, Garnett struck out Gregory and first baseman Andrew Stephens before catcher Josh Young’s infield single allowed Shertzer to score.

Indian Creek (10-2) rallied for a pair of runs in the fourth when center fielder Maurice Elder opened the frame with a single and came all the way around on Selmer’s double to right.

Gregory was close to escaping the jam after he fanned first baseman John Warner and retired Barndon Harris on a grounder to second.

However, Selmer crossed the plate on an error to give the Eagles a 2-1 advantage that only lasted until the bottom half of the inning when a passed ball on a strikeout, two steals and an error knotted the score.

The deadlocked remained until the top of the eighth when a two-out rally against reliever Andrew Holtman by the Eagles gave them the lead for good.

With two outs, Warner came to the plate looking for something belt-high in the middle of the plate.

When the left-handed hitter got what he was looking for after falling behind, 0-2, he smoked a double into right-center.

The next batter, Harris, smacked the next pitch just over Stephens’ outstretched glove and into right field to bring in the go-ahead run.

“I spoke to my coach right before I came up, and he informed that the pitcher was underestimating me,” Harris said. “Coach told me to drive the first pitch and I got up to the plate and fulfilled my role.”

Despite the two setbacks to the Saints during the season, Harris said that the team was motivated to make the championship happen.

“We were dedicated,” Harris said. “We worked together all season, and we picked each other up.”

When Holtman led off the bottom of the eighth, he was in an 0-2 hole before the weather sirens went off and the game was suspended.

On Tuesday, Justin Draper batted for Holtman and lined to Warner at first before Selmer made a great defensive play by covering first when Warner had to range far to his right to field Shertzer’s grounder and nip him by a step.

Selmer struck out Garrett Bender to end the game, earn a save and secure the school’s first baseball hardware.

“We battled all year,” Murtha said. “We don’t have many baseball players, maybe three or four. The others are athletes who we teach to play baseball.”

IC 000 200 0 1 — 3 8 0
CP 100 100 00 — 2 2 2
Travis Garnett, Evan Selmer (8) and Evan Selmer, N/A (8); Bryce Gregory, Andrew Holtman (7) and Josh Young
WP-Travis Garnett; LP-Andrew Holtman; Save-Evan Selmer
2B: IC-Evan Selmer, John Warner.