Rec Sports Spotlight: Finksburg Orioles snag Majors title

Rec Sports Spotlight: Finksburg Orioles snag Majors title
The Finksburg Orioles captured the Majors (11-12) Division championship in June, 2018. (Courtesy photo)

Dover Hankins II, who coaches the Orioles in the Finksburg baseball program’s major league (ages 11-12) division, was cautiously optimistic as this season dawned.

Five boys were back from last year’s team, and the six new players were looking solid.


“I thought we would be competitive, but I didn’t want to count my chickens before they hatched,” Hankins said.

Why not? As things turned out, he could have gotten away with it.

The Orioles went 9-0 to take first place in the regular season. And, after an opening loss, they went on to win the postseason championship tournament.

Hankins explained his purpose, and that of the Finksburg league, was as much to instruct the kids and improve them as players as it was to have them compete. This was particularly true in the regular season.

Accordingly, he and assistant coaches John Delgado and Mike Cross had some ground rules.

Everybody played in every game and players rotated in and out of the lineup. Nobody sat for very long.

In addition, everybody got to play different positions so they could learn which they liked best and where they were best suited. For example, eight of the 11 boys pitched at one point or another this season.All players got to play both infield and outfield.

The players benefited from this opportunity to play different positions. And in the playoffs, this versatility was crucial to the team's success.

Two players helped by this switching of positions were second baseman Robbie Byrd and third baseman Geordie Chagalis, who proved outstanding defensively in the postseason.

His players' improvement pleased their coach greatly.

“I loved to watch the kids develop throughout the course of the season," Hankins said.

Of course he also enjoyed the fact that nobody was beating them.

Mother Nature was a problem though.

Since there were only four local teams in the Finksburg 11-12 baseball loop. Those teams also played games against Westminster and Sykesville squads to get some variety.


Rain washed out a number of games, however, and the Orioles played only nine of their scheduled 13 contests.

Because the kids had lost so many opportunities to play, the league decided to lengthen its postseason tournament and make it a double-elimination affair.

Under the traditional postseason tournament format, the four teams would have played two semifinal matches with the winners playing for the championship. The new double-elimination arrangement allowed a team to have one loss and still have a chance to come back and play for the title.

That was helpful for the Orioles, who played the Nationals on June 9 in the playoff opener. They lost 3-2.

They scored two runs in the fourth inning to go ahead 2-1, but the Nats scored two in their half to go up by one run. And that's where the score stayed.

John Delgado and Brandon Cross pitched well in defeat, racking up 11 strikeouts combined. The batting though, was out of town that day. The Orioles were only 3-for-21 and struck out 13 times.

Their coach had only one piece of advice for them after that one, saying simply, "we have to hit the ball better boys."

In Game 2, they did. The Orioles rolled the Phillies 14-1, batting .571 (24-42) in doing so.

Tyler Chin led the way offensively with a 4-for-4 effort. Going 3-for-4 were Drake Hankins, Delgado, Cross, Sameer Nasir, and Thomas Huey. Cody Pickett and Graham Fales were each 2-for-4.

Hankins gave up only one run in three innings, and E.J. Youngling pitched two scoreless frames.

The Orioles still had their hitting shoes on in the next game. They were beating the Yankees 12-0 when rain halted the game after four innings.

Delgado pitched scoreless ball and also went 2-for-3 with four RBI. Pickett was 1-for-1, was hit by a pitch, and scored two runs.

That brought back the Nationals, who were still unbeaten in the tournament. A Nats win would clinch the title and send Hankins’ team home.

However, the Orioles didn’t cooperate. They broke a 3-3 tie with three runs in the third inning and went on to win 11-5.

Cross went 3-for-4 with a double and four RBIs; Chin was 2-for-3. Overall, the Orioles went 11-for-29 (.379).

Geordie Chaglis made several run-saving plays at third base.

That gave each squad one loss in the double-elimination affair. One more to go.

In that final, the Nationals jumped on the Orioles with five runs in the second inning to lead 6-1. But not to be denied, the O's scored six runs in the fourth and six more in the fifth to win going away, 14-8.

They batted a robust .483 (12-for-29) in that finale.

Byrd and Chagalis were outstanding defensively. Youngling was 2-for-4 in the game.

Hankins was thrilled at the win, especially because his boys had to win four straight times after a heartbreaking loss in the opener.

“They were excited,” Hankins said. “What kids wouldn’t be, particularly after they lost the first game of the tournament. It was a great team effort.”