A 12U all-star team from the Upper Montgomery Athletic Club or UMAC, which is based in Germantown and plays at Taylor Fields in Boyds, took third place in the statewide Cal Ripken League baseball tournament last weekend.
The tournament took place in Emmitsburg in Frederick County over four days. The UMAC boys started off slow dropping the first game to the hosts and eventual tournament champs Emmitsburg by a score of 10-1 on Thursday night.
The games schedule was condensed because of foul weather and the UMAC boys had to play three games on Sunday, according to team manager Erick Summers.
On Sunday, the boys knew that they would have to be at their best. “This team is really scrappy and gutsy,” said Summers talking about his team. To advance in the tournament, the UMAC boys would have to win the first two back-to-back games on Sunday.
The first game pitted UMAC against a team from Frederick the Germantown team scored two runs in the first inning but had a disastrous bottom half of the inning giving up seven runs, on four home runs to go down 7-2 at the end of one.
It looked like they would be exiting the tournament early, but the UMAC team held Frederick scoreless for the rest of the game. The UMAC all-stars fought and scratched out five more runs to come back and tie 7-7 at the end of six innings. They would eventually win 8-7 in seven innings after Evan Gary hit a double to plate the winning run.
Summers said the team’s core offensive threesome of Josh Howard, Evan Summers, and Ben McDowell came up big in the tournament. Catcher Josh Howard hit .500 over the five games in the tournament while third baseman Evan Summers averaged .444 for the tournament.
“We are a scrappier team,” said Summers. “We didn’t have two dominate pitchers like some other teams do that we could put out there and have them throw heat. We pitched ten different guys across the five games.”
“Colin Donovan had a tremendous tournament,” said Summers. He pitched the last two innings against Frederick to help secure the come-from-behind win. Donovan struck out four in the last two innings, including striking out the side in the bottom of the sixth, said Summers. “It was just a really gutsy performance.”
In the next game, it would take some late inning heroics to get past a team from Smithsburg. It would be Ben McDowell who would come up big.
After once again the UMAC boys gave up runs early and trailed 6-0 in the bottom of fifth inning when a walk would give UMAC a baserunner and single would get UMAC on the board. Late in the inning, the table would be set for clean-up hitter Ben McDowell. He came to the plate with bases loaded, down four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. He would find a pitch to drive and clear the bases with a grand-slam to tie the game.
Summers credited centerfielder C.J. Liang with all three outs in the top of the seventh inning. After Smithsburg had put a runner on first, the next batter hit a shot into centerfield and Liang was able to make the play and throw the runner out at second for the first out of the inning. The next batter hit another long shot into centerfield which Liang was able to catch and have the presence of mind to throw to first base to double-up the runner who got caught not tagging up to end the inning. The UMAC all-stars were able to work one more run in the bottom of the seventh to win the game and take third place in the tournament.
With one more game to play, the UMAC all-stars found themselves out of gas on Sunday. They dropped the third game to Severn and were unable to advance. “I think we were gassed. We came out strong, and we shut them down in the first inning,” said Summers. However, the rest of the game would not go their way. “We had very little left in the tank. We struggled to throw strikes, committed some errors, and gave up a couple home runs,” said Summers.
Top: The UMAC 12U All-Stars. Top row: Erick Summers (manager), Brian Nichols, Evan Summers, Eric Gary (coach), Jonathan Homan, Scott McDowell (coach), Ben McDowell, C.J. Liang, and Quinn Coffey
Front row: Sam Holstine, Evan Gary, Liam Melley, Tristyn Tith, James Bailey, Colin Donovan, and Josh Howard.
Next: Ben McDowell is mobbed by his teammates after hitting a grand slam.
Next: Josh Howard behind the plate.
Next: C.J. Liang congratulated after turning a double play in the sixth inning against Smithsburg on Sunday.
Photos by Sabrina Bailey and Alison Melley