By CHRIS TULP — It took a four-run comeback win in the semifinals by the 14-and-under St. Jerome Parish baseball team to advance to the championship game, where they ultimately claimed the title under the lights at Blair High School.
The St. Jerome Parish baseball team rallied from a 9-6 deficit in their last at-bat of the semifinal game. They narrowed the score to 9-8. With one out and nobody on base, they had the number eight hitter, outfielder Matthew Riordon, coming to bat.
“Trailing 9-8 with one out, nobody on base and our number eight hitter coming to bat, I wasn’t fully confident we would win,” said coach Chris McManes.
On a full count, Riordon laced a hit back up the middle.
There was another full count to the number nine hitter, outfielder/second baseman Ian Brown, who eventually drew a walk to get on base. He represented the winning run.
Riordon, who was the tying run, scored all the way from second base after a passed ball and an errant throw by the catcher who was trying to get Riordon out at third base. The errant throw got past the third baseman and went all the way into left field. The score was then 9-9 and there was still only one out with Brown advancing all the way from first to third base.
Brown then came into score the winning run after the catcher’s throwback to the pitcher got away. The shortstop picked it up and threw it home, but Brown beat the throw, giving St. Jerome Parish the 10-9 walk-off victory.
Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) stopped sponsoring baseball this year, according to McManes, so he entered his team in the Takoma Park Silver Spring (TPSS) Majors 70 division. This means they played on a field with 70-foot bases.
The TPSS championship game was played under the lights at Blair High School’s softball field. The bases had to be moved from 60 feet to 70 to accommodate the rules. This was the team’s first game on that field and first night game.
“I could sense that our players were a little on edge,” said McManes. “All our other games had been played at Nolte Field Park.”
In the championship game, St. Jerome Parish was the home team. They faced off against the only team to beat them all season, team Atashbar, who won the first matchup 11-8 in mid-June. Team Atashbar was coached by Jose Dominguez.
“We were excited to have the opportunity to face them again,” said Dominguez. “We knew it was going to be tough against a really good, one-loss team.”
St. Jerome Parish was down 2-0 after one inning but erased that deficit. The game was tied at three when they scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. St. Jerome only allowed Atashbar to score one more run in the top of the sixth (the last inning) and went on to claim the championship, 7-4. The players celebrated with a dog pile at second base.
“I was really proud that after the game, Connor [Flynn] took it upon himself to lead his teammates in prayer,” said McManes. “We pray before and after each game and practice, but I almost always lead it. It was good to see a 7th-grader take the initiative and guide the older boys.”
After winning the 2018 championship, St. Jerome Parish finished with a record of 13-1. They finished the 2017 season with a record of 12-3 for an overall record of 25-4 in that two-year span. Both years, they finished their seasons by winning the regular season and tournament titles.
Three of McManes’ players were also selected to play on a Prince George’s County Babe Ruth All Star team, where they played on a full-size 90-foot field for the first time.