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The Central Maryland Cyclones went 4-0 in taking the Armed Forces Day Slugfest tournament title on June 8-9, 2019.
The Central Maryland Cyclones went 4-0 in taking the Armed Forces Day Slugfest tournament title on June 8-9, 2019. (Courtesy photo)

Many youth sports teams break up once the players hit high school age.

But the Central Maryland Cyclones 14-under baseball team won’t. The players have decided to stay together, even when they are in high school.

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And why should the team disband anyway? It has been too successful.

Chris Roach and assistant coaches Larry Grimsley and Brian Perrier are naturally more than happy. So will the baseball coaches at the Century and Liberty, which gets most of their kids next year.

The core of this team has be together since about 2012. And from then through this season, they've averaged about 35 wins each year. The Cyclones have also finished among the the top three in their Mid-Atlantic Baseball Association division in each of the seven years they have been a member.

It has also won its share of tournaments over the years, including two this season.

Just about every weekend is devoted to tournaments; the MABA league games are all on weeknights.

The ruling philosophy of the coaches is to prepare the kids for high school by giving them the toughest competition they can find against teams they rarely or never see.

As Roach puts it, “We want to put them in harm’s way.”

However many times, the harm never arrives because they simply don’t lose that many baseball games.

The coaches use MABA to prepare their players for the tournaments. To that end, they get everybody game time during week nights. They have also entered them in an MABA 16-under league this season instead of the under-14 bracket where they would be expected to play given their age.

Thus, the 12 of the team’s 15 players who are eighth-graders compete against high school-aged players a year older. The roster is also loaded with players who can pitch if necessary — 10 in all.

“We want to make sure we have enough (pitchers) to go to the end of the tournament. With that depth, we can go into Sunday or Sunday afternoon with fresh arms,” Roach said.

Rec Sports Spotlight for June 9, 2019.

The whole team has been together for three tournaments this season, and it it has won two of the three.

The Cyclones went 4-0 in taking the Armed Forces Day Slugfest on June 8-9. On Memorial Day weekend, it took four of five games in winning the Ripken Memorial Day Classic in Aberdeen. They had never played any of the teams in the Ripken tournament’s field of opponents from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

It opened by topping Hamilton North of New Jersey 6-2.

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Hamilton led 2-1 early, but the locals scored three runs in the fourth inning and two in the fifth to put the game away. Nate Boore and Brayden McGraw each went 2-for-3 for the winners. Nick Duvall pitched 4 1/3 innings in relief for the win.

The Cyclones won again in Game 2, scoring in five of seven innings and beating the Richmond Rukus 10-4.

Camden Hodges and Quinn Petroski were each 2-for-3. Hodges, Owen Roach and Brody Comer had extra-base hits, and Petroski plated two runs. Roach got the win, allowing only one run and three hits in six relief innings.

However, things went directly south for the locals in the next game. The West Chester (Pa.) Dragons overcame a 4-2 Cyclones lead with a five-run fifth inning and went on to win 9-6.

Comer was 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

“We made errors, walked seven and they hit,” Chris Roach said. “And they’re a good team.”

However, his team had won two of the three pool games to qualify for the tournament semifinals.

But there, they would have to go in without one of their better hitters and strongest defensive outfielders. Colin Perrier, who generally batted fifth in the order and had gotten three hits in the tournament's early stages, was injured and missed the final games.

That didn't stop Central Maryland, though. It hammered Richmond 16-8 in their semifinal. The Cyclones scored 12 runs in the first inning to put it away.

Kyle Grimsley was 2-for-3, and Hodges went 3-for-3 with three RBIs. Colin Murphy had two RBIs and a run scored, and Herring smacked a two-run double.

That left the championship game and a re-match with the Dragons. The Cyclones would get only three hits, but they received 10 walks and benefited from three errors.The Dragons led 3-2 until the fifth inning when the locals scored four runs to go ahead for good. They clinched the game with four more in the seventh and won 10-5.

Comer had two of the team's three hits and drove in three runs.

Owen Roach pitched the final two innings to help preserve the lead. He allowed only one run in eight relief innings and had several hits as well in the Classic, en route to being named tournament Most Valuable Player.

Central Maryland also benefited throughout the tournament from the efforts other players who provided fine defense. Sam Evans, Ryan Baker, and Brett Overman played well in the middle infield and also in the outfield from time to time.

Blake Magill also contributed by pitching seven innings in relief over the weekend, thus taking the load off of other pitchers.

“We wanted to play against competition we hadn't played before. And we wanted to put ourselves in harm’s way,” Chris Roach said. “We accomplished what we set out to do. The boys were ecstatic.”

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