Keystone’s junior baseball team advances at Eastern Regional tournament
As Keystone held onto a one-run lead after three innings, it seemed as if perhaps Berlin Little League of Maryland was shifting some momentum its way. The same situation the unfolded later in the game. Keystone kept putting up runs, but Berlin didn’t seem to go away quietly.
Keystone’s offense did the trick though and escaped Sunday afternoon with an exciting 15-11 win against Berlin, Maryland, in the Junior Baseball Eastern Regional tournament in Freehold Township, New Jersey.
With the victory, Keystone advances to play Canton, Massachusetts on Monday morning at 10 a.m. The loser of that game plays again at 4 p.m. The winner of Monday morning’s game advances to the championship game on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. An “if” game is scheduled to follow directly afterwards at 1 p.m. if necessary. The Junior League World Series is scheduled for Aug. 14-21 in Taylor, Michigan.
“Honestly our discipline at the plate was phenomenal. We were very disciplined and made them throw strikes. When they did, we drove it. Later in the game, we got a couple base runners on and some clutch hits by everybody,” Keystone manager Steve Shade said. “Everyone’s chipped in today. We settled in and made the plays when we needed to.”
Berlin first scored three runs across the second and third innings to trail just 4-3 entering the fourth. That’s when Keystone’s offense exploded for an eight-run fourth inning to go ahead, 12-3. But Berlin kept battling in its plate appearances. Berlin scored four in the fourth to cut the deficit to 12-7 and then, after Keystone added a run in the fifth, scored another four in the sixth to trail 13-11.
The Mill Hall all-stars scored twice in the top of the seventh to go ahead by four and then shut down Berlin in the bottom of the inning with a three-up, three-down quick inning to solidify the victory.
“Our pitching was big. We switched pitchers a bit today and we had some bumps there, but we settled in and threw strikes,” Shade said. “That’s one thing I tell these kids from Day 1: strikes. Make them hit the ball. We don’t want to give them free passes on errors.”
Pitching wise, Keystone had Jones, Frank, Ludlow, Cross, Shade and Blake Walker combine in the effort as Jones earned the victory. And that depth on the mound has been key for Keystone this summer.
“That’s one of the reasons why we are successful. At an early age, I worked with all these kids and they said ‘coach I’m not a pitcher.’ I said ‘we’ll make you into a pitcher,'” Shade said. “Our depth is very deep and each player has had time on the mound in certain situations. Sometimes I leave them in during certain situations just so they have confidence in themselves and have their teammates behind them.”
That fourth inning proved to be enormous for Keystone to win in the end. Keystone quickly load the bases in the top of the fourth without any outs thanks to a hit batter, single and walk to lead off the inning. Probst drove in two runs with an RBI single to left before a hit batter brought in another run for a 7-3 lead. Dane Hanna crushed a double to drive in two additional runs and Jared Bischof hit a single to bring in another to put Keystone ahead, 10-3.
“That (fourth) inning was big. I think we had six hits in a row kind of there. That was big to see the team come through and string hits together,” Shade said. “We haven’t had that kind of game yet this year. I knew it would come where we’d be able to string all the hits together and make good base-running decisions.”
Keystone plated another run for an 11-3 lead as Bischof advanced to second before the first out of the inning was recorded. Josh Ludlow hit a double to bring in Bischof to extend the lead to 12-3. Ludlow was driven to third on a single by Shade to put runners at the corners before Berlin finally forced the final out to escape the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Berlin used a walk and double to put runners at third and second with no outs. A sacrifice fly brought in one run before an RBI single by Loring made it a 13-9 deficit with just one out as Loring advanced to second. Landon Daniel and Edelmann connected with back-to-back RBI doubles to make it a two-run deficit, 13-11. But Keystone would force the final two outs to end the threat.
To open the seventh, Keystone had a walk and single by Cross to put two runners on with no outs and a walk loaded the bases before a fielder’s choice and an error allowed a run to score. Keystone would score another to take a four-run lead, 15-11, heading to the bottom of seventh.
Berlin would load the bases in the bottom of the fourth inning with two outs and a single by Hobgood drove in a run to make it a 12-4 deficit. Nadeau then came up with a bases-clearing double before advancing to third to cut the deficit to 12-7, but Keystone forced the third out to prevent Berlin from rallying further in the fourth.
Keystone added an additional run in the top of the fifth to go ahead, 13-7.
Berlin threatened again in the fifth. After a strikeout to begin the inning, Edelmann reached on a walk before an error put Edelmann at second and a runner at first, but an infield fly and a groundout toward third ended the inning as Berlin went 0 for 2 in the bottom of the fifth with a runner in scoring position.
Keystone was excellent in situational hitting, going 7 for 13 with runners in scoring position. Darius Shade went 2 for 4, Watt Probst was 2 for 3 and three RBIs, Hayes Miller went 2 for 3 with a double and a team-high four RBIs, and Jossh Ludlow had a double. Keystone also saw singles from Nolan Cross (three runs) and Jared Bischof.
Berlin managed to out-hit Keystone, 12-9. Hobgood went 3 for 5 with two doubles, an RBI and three runs scored, Brandon Nadeau was 2 for 4 with five RBIs and a double, Loring went 2 for 4 with a double, RBI and three runs, Landon Daniel went 1 for 4, Edelmann was 3 for 4 with a double and RBI and Springle had a single.
Berlin was 6 for 14 through the game with runners in scoring position.
Two walks to open the top of the first put Cole Cooper and Shade on base without any outs. A wild pitch then allowed both to advance to third and second, respectively, putting runners in scoring position. Probst came through with a two-RBI single to put Keystone ahead, 2-0, with an out early. After Probst’s hit, Nolan Cross was walked to put two runners on again, including one in scoring position. With two outs, Hayes Miller crushed a double to drive in two additional runs and build up Keystone’s early lead to 4-0. Miller and Austin Frank, who reached on a walk, both advanced to third and second, respectively, and another walk loaded the bases with two outs.
Edelmann then forced a third out to prevent more runs from scoring. In the bottom of the first, Berlin went three up, three down.
Loring answered for Berlin with a triple in the bottom of the second, eventually scoring on a passed ball with no outs to cut the deficit to 4-1. Edelmann then reached with a single to get on with one out. A Springle single put runners at first and second with two outs, but they were both left stranded.
To get this far has been something Shade is proud of his team for accomplishing.
“That’s big (to get to regionals). We were very confident bunch and these kids have played together for awhile. They know how to play the game and step up when they need to. Once again, it’s very special. This group of kids are very, very special,” Shade said. “They work their butts off every morning. It’s special to see boys get this far even though jobs not done yet. But it’s still been phenomenal.”
Keystone 400 810 2 – 15 9 3
Berlin (Md.) 012 404 0 – 11 12 5
Aiden Jones, Austin Frank (2), Josh Ludlow (4), Nolan Cross (4), Darius Shade (5), Blake Walker (6) and Watt Probst. Mason Edelmann, Brandon Nadeau (1), Johnny Hobgood (4), Seamus Orth (4), Lucas Kohut (6), Spencer Gaylor (7) and Kyle Springle, Mason Edelmann. W: Jones. L: Nadeau.
Top Keystone hitters: Darius Shade 2-4, BB, 2 runs; Watt Probst 2-3, 3 RBIs, 2 runs, BB; Nolan Cross 1-3, RBI, 3 runs, BB; Dane Hanna 2 RBIs, run; Hayes Miller 2-3, 2B, 4 RBIs, run; Jared Bischof 1-2, RBI, run; Josh Ludlow 1-2, 2B, RBI, run. Top Berlin (Md.) hitters: Johnny Hobgood 3-5, 2 2B, RBI, 3 runs; Brandon Nadeau 2-4, 2B, 5 RBIs; Caleb Loring 2-4, 2B, RBI, 3 runs; Landon Daniel 1-4, RBI; Mason Edelmann 3-4, 2B, RBI; Kyle Springle 1-3.