The Four County 11-12 Little League All-Stars understand the definition of a “grind,” manager Jason Evans said.
The All-Stars squad entered Wednesday’s rematch with Thurmont after defeating Montgomery County Upper on Tuesday, the team’s third game in four days. The grind didn’t stop for Four County on Wednesday, as the All-Stars beat Thurmont 7-3 to advance in the District 2 tournament and they travel to Brunswick Thursday at 6 p.m.
“We left a lot of runners on base in the first few innings,” infielder Caleb Kearns said. “After that, we kept stringing hits together and scoring more runs and didn’t leave as many runners on base.”
Kearns notched two of the All-Stars’ nine hits, and he added two RBIs as well. Catcher Jack Scarzello notched three hits and pitcher Caleb Evans struck out seven batters. He also pitched a complete game with 77 pitches.
Thurmont went up 2-0 in the first inning, thanks to a two-run home run from Brayden Conrad. Thurmont forced three straight outs to close out the first, but Four County answered back with a two-run homer from Kearns.
Evans pitched three perfect innings for Four County, but Conrad launched another homer to center in the top of the fourth to give the visitors some additional momentum. The All-Stars had scored another run in the third inning and Conrad’s run tied the teams 3-3.
“Caleb helped a lot,“ Scarzello said. “Our defense played extremely well, especially with how Caleb threw those strikes.”
Scarzello said catching for Evans is easy because his pitcher knows exactly where to throw the ball, right to Scarzello’s glove. The duo’s communication has significantly improved, he said, thanks to the guidance of assistant coach Greg Gapen.
Four County made it 4-3 in the fourth off an RBI single from Aidan Nilan that brought in JP Shultz.
The All-Stars sent their first three batters to base with RBI doubles, and grabbed a 7-3 lead in the fifth before Thurmont forced three straight outs.
Thurmont centerfielder Lucas Reeder smacked a hit into center in the top of the sixth and made an attempt to reach third base for a potential triple, but was injured sliding into the base. Coaches and parents tended to Reeder, and paramedics arrived moments after to get him safely to the hospital.
Reeder was escorted out on a stretcher and the teams formed two lines in the center of the diamond to wish him well.
“They realized that while someone can get hurt, whether it’s one of theirs or one of ours, they really do still have a job to do,” Jason Evans said. “They came out and they did it O.K. Our thoughts are with the Thurmont player and the families and we wish him a speedy recovery.”
Thursday’s matchup at Brunswick is a rematch of last year’s elimination bracket final, in which Brunswick got the best of Four County and ended its tournament run in 2018.
Seven of Four County’s 13 players are back from last year, and five of the kids on the roster hail from Carroll County — Caleb Evans, Kearns, Sam Gapen, Kyle Humbel, and Jonah Oetken.