College baseball

Baltimore Redbirds second baseman Pat Fitzgerald backhands a ball during the Redbirds' 7-6 loss to Gaithersburg at Calvert Hall's Carlos Crispino Stadium on Thursday night. Fitzgerald played at Calvert Hall and will be a senior at Towson University in the fall. (Brian Krista / Patuxent Publishing / July 11, 2013)

After consecutive one-run losses at home, the Baltimore Redbirds will try to back on the winning track tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Calvert Hall College’s Carlos Crispino Stadium in their quest to defend their title in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball league.

The Redbirds (17-12) lost, 7-6, on Thursday night in the wooden bat league to the Gaithersburg Giants, dropping to fourth place in the standings, 3 1/2 games behind league-leading Bethesda (19-7) and trailing Alexandria (15-8) and Gaithersburg (19-11).

Gilman graduate Brandan Casas (University of Maryland) started the game, but gave up five runs in 2 2/3 innings.

The Redbirds fell behind, 2-0, in the first inning, but tied it in the bottom of the second on a run-scoring double by Luke Czajkowski (Wake Forest) that scored Calvert Hall graduate Lee Lipinski (2-for-4) and an RBI single by Sean Keselica (Virginia Tech).

Lipinski, a Glen Arm resident, eads the Redbirds in average (.356), just ahead of St. Paul’s alum and Owings Mills resident Lamonte Wade Jr. (.337).

Wade (Maryland) leads the league in home runs (5) and the team in runs (19). His 20 RBIs is second on the Redbirds to Ian Rice (21).

Gaithersburg broke the game open with three runs in the third and one in the fourth, before the Redbirds rallied to close the gap with a run in the fifth and pair of runs in the sixth.

Rice’s sacrifice fly plated a run in the fifth.

In the sixth, Czajkowski’s double and Jimmy Redovian’s bloop single was followed by a sacrifice fly from Calvert Hall grad and rising Towson University senior Pat Fitzgerald (0-1, walk, sacrifice bunt), and a run-scoring single by Matt Campbell (North Carolina).

They trailed, 6-5, until Colin Shaw’s fourth stolen base of the night led to a run and Giants’ 7-5 lead in the top of the eighth.

In the bottom of the eighth, Redovian (4-for-5) led off with an infield hit and later scored on Campbell’s force out, but that was the last of the scoring for the night.

“It’s frustrating for us right now because that is two in a row and we are not really used to that,” said Fitzgerald, who boasts a .981 fielding percentage at second base.

The Redbirds are currently in a demanding schedule in which are playing seven games in six days, including a double-header Saturday, July 13 against the Alexandria Aces (3:30 and 6:30 p.m.) at Calvert Hall.

Fitzgerald knows they have to turn up the focus meter during that stretch.

“I think its a mindset for us,” he said “We’ve just got to play with energy all game, instead of knowing we are down and then energy just comes upon us when we are losing, but we need it at the start of the game in the first inning.”

Although all those games will be important, as they push for one of the top six spots for a playoff berth, the most rewarding day on the ball field will be when they host the League of Dreams kids at 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 20, before playing the Herndon Braves at 6:30 p.m.

The League of Dreams mission statement is to: Provide all individuals, regardless of physical or mental capacity, the opportunity to experience the joy, challenges and personal growth from playing the great games of baseball and softball.

Fitzgerald has worked with the Field of Dreams program before and has felt its impact.

“Interacting with us college players from all over the place is just a great experience for them and it kind of humbles us as well,”  he said. “We both love the game of baseball and we have that in common already, so we just go from there.”

Notes: Seven Redbirds were selected to play for the North All-Stars in the CRCBL All-Star game at Shirley Povich Field in Rockville, on Wednesday, July 17 (7:30 p.m.).

They include: position players Alex Pastorious (Calvert Hall,  College of Charleston), Wade, Rice and Keselica and pitchers Matt Denny (2-0, 0.94 earned run average), Brandon Hinkle (2-0, 1.14 e.r.a.) and Jack Fischer (1-0, 1.68 e.r.a.).