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Baseball: Summer's arrival brings optimism for Carroll County's American Legion teams

Baseball: Summer's arrival brings optimism for Carroll County's American Legion teams
Mount Airy's Josh Taylor is greeted by teammates after he hit a three-run homer the first inning. Mount Airy American Legion Post 191 defeated Sykesville Post 223 during a 2018 regular-season game. (Doug Kapustin / For the Carroll County Times)

Carroll County’s pair of American Legion baseball teams are preparing for their 2019 seasons, and expectations are high for both squads.

Mount Airy has a new manager in Ryan Staley, who is moving up from his spot leading the Junior team to replace brother Tripp Staley. The older Staley left to become an assistant coach at McDaniel College.

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Ryan Staley managed Mount Airy’s Junior squad to American Legion state championships in 2017 and 2018, and is bringing a handful of his former players up to the Senior level. Staley said that should help with any transition issues from the coaching staff.

Of course, the goal is universal — win a state title, something Post 191 hasn’t done in 10 years. Mount Airy last played in a state tournament in 2016.

“Everyone’s looking forward to it,” Staley said. “Practices have been really good, everyone’s focused and ready to come put in the work.”

Mount Airy went 20-11 last summer and Staley said the team returns one of its top pitchers in Max Proctor, who had a solid freshman year at Frederick Community College. Post 191 will likely also use Garrett Schwartzbeck in its regular rotation, Staley said.

Mount Airy’s season-opening games are in North Carolina this weekend, where Post 191 is slated to play games near Wilmington along the coast. Western Maryland District play begins June 12 against Woodsboro Post 282.

There’s a wrinkle in district play this year — instead of the regular-season champion earning an automatic berth into the state tourney, the top two teams will meet in a best-of-three series to determine a winner.

The Western Maryland District consists of Mount Airy, Sykesville, Woodsboro, Frederick, Funkstown, and Boonsboro.

“It’s a good group of kids we’ve enjoyed working with in the past,” Staley said. “What we need to focus on is overcoming adversity in big situations in a big game. You just need to be able to control what you can control.”

Staley said Mount Airy’s lineup should feature several lethal bats, with lefty Logan DeBord settling into the lead-off spot and South Carroll graduate Griffin Gill returning after a successful 2018.

Look for Armani Bullock to also provide some offense, Staley said.

Staley said it might take a little time for Mount Airy to find its rhythm, but he expects his team to compete this season.

Sykesville second baseman Jake Sell dives for a ground ball during a game against Pasadena in Eldersburg in 2017.
Sykesville second baseman Jake Sell dives for a ground ball during a game against Pasadena in Eldersburg in 2017. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Sykesville Post 223, in its seventh year, is looking to improve on a 9-19-2 record from a summer ago. Post 223 is set to begin its new season next weekend, June 14-16, with a three-day tournament in Cumberland. A trip to McCurdy Field in Frederick on June 18 opens Western Maryland District play.

George Richardson III and Todd Fletcher are back as managers, and Sykesville returns its share of players too.

Former all-county pick Caleb Ludwig (Manchester Valley) is back, and played at Lebanon Valley College this past season. Former Winters Mill standout Deion Blackburn returns as catcher, while former South Carroll pitcher Jonathan Money and grad-to-be Jacob Rostkowski should fill some pitching spots.

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Westminster stars Cory Moran and Jake Sell are on board after helping the Owls reach a regional final this spring.

Cavaliers standout Aidan Greaney is on the Senior team roster, along with recent Century grad Joe Rekus.

Mount Airy and Sykesville have their first regular-season matchup set for June 28, then again July 3 at Mount Airy’s Lindsay Browning Field and July 18 at Liberty High School.

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