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Sykesville Cyclones 16-under travel baseball team won another tournament, this time in Ocean City at the Future Stars 5th Annual OC Summer Beach Blast. Sykesville ran its winning streak to 27 games and captured its third straight tourney title. Front row (L-R): Alex White, Michael Parris, Matt Born, Trevor Smoot, Trent Smoot, Brandon Will, Dylan Hairfield. Back row (L-R): Coach Charles Smoot, Head Coach Dwayne Parris, Mason Currence, Jack Merchak, Jarod Lamb, Cameron Ciampaglia, Bill Scanlon, Ethan Kiple, Jake Diehl, Coach Todd Lamb. - Original Credit:
Sykesville Cyclones 16-under travel baseball team won another tournament, this time in Ocean City at the Future Stars 5th Annual OC Summer Beach Blast. Sykesville ran its winning streak to 27 games and captured its third straight tourney title. Front row (L-R): Alex White, Michael Parris, Matt Born, Trevor Smoot, Trent Smoot, Brandon Will, Dylan Hairfield. Back row (L-R): Coach Charles Smoot, Head Coach Dwayne Parris, Mason Currence, Jack Merchak, Jarod Lamb, Cameron Ciampaglia, Bill Scanlon, Ethan Kiple, Jake Diehl, Coach Todd Lamb. - Original Credit: (Courtesy Photo)

This season the Sykesville Cyclones continued to blow away their opposition just as they've done in years past, and perhaps a bit better than in years past.

In 2017, the Dwayne Parris-coached 16-under travel baseball squad, one of 11 teams operated by the Sykesville Travel Baseball youth program, again made its mark throughout the region.

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It finished second in the Mid-Atlantic Baseball Association (MABA), the eighth consecutive time in has finished either first or second in that loop. Perhaps more amazing the local kids, playing against some of the best competition around, ran up a 27-game unbeaten streak in June and July.

They had to go down to Georgia to find somebody who would finally beat them.

Parris said that this was the best Cyclones team he has coached in his eight years at the helm.

He had all but two of last year's players back this spring. With a veteran squad, most of whom have played for him 5-8 years, Parris wanted to play as tough a schedule as he could find.

He placed his team in MABA's Varsity Weeknight Division, leaving weekends available for tournaments. His team of high school sophomores and juniors was one of the younger squads in that loop comprised of high school varsity players.

But age wouldn't matter.

He and assistant coaches Todd Lamb and Charles Smoot searched out the strongest tournaments.

His goals for the year were the same as always.

"We wanted to find the best competition so the players could improve their skills," Parris said.

As for winning, he said he always hopes for a .500 record.

Things started raggedly though. His team lost its first two weeknight MABA games. And while it played reasonably well in its first two tournaments, it lasted only into the semifinals.

On June 4, his Cyclones were exactly .500, 5-5.

"We were just getting our kids back from high school, and they had to settle in. We hadn't been together since last year, and we got off to a slow start.We weren't hitting on all cylinders," Parris said, explaining the so-so start.

Then on the evening of June 5, his Cyclones topped MABA's West Howard County Black, 5-3 and their 27-game win streak was on.

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They ran the table in winning their last nine league games. They would also win three consecutive tournament championships without losing a single game.

The Cyclones began by sweeping six games to win the Mid-June Battle of Gettysburg tournament. In late June they swept five contests at the University of Maryland to take first in the University's Pastime Tournament Showcase.

Showcase tournaments give college coaches and pro scouts an opportunity to watch and evaluate ballplayers they are considering recruiting or signing to professional contracts.

In mid-July, the kids traveled to Ocean City and won the Beach Blast Tournament. They went 5-0-1 there.

The also won two informal games at a Towson University showcase tournament. Meanwhile, they were dominating MABA, their only reverses coming to Mother Nature via three rain-outs.

The Cyclones finished their nine-game MABA run on July 12 by out-slugging first place HYCP Zuiderhof 11-7. That gave the locals a 9-2 final mark for the season. They surrendered 41 runs, the fewest in the league among teams that played ten or more games. Their 88 runs scored were second-best.

HYCP though, finished first at 10-4.

The weeknight league did not play a postseason tournament.

In mid-July, the kids were still rolling. They hadn't lost to anybody in 27 games.

"One of the biggest keys to our success was that everybody on the team could pitch," Parris said. "To get through those five and six-game tournaments, you have to have a lot of pitchers available. But you also have to be concerned with arm care. It's very important to keep them on a pitch count."

Defense was another big factor.

"The kids have played together so long that they know how the others played. I would call our defense top-notch," he said.

And, many played this level of defense regardless of their position.

Parris explained that, "we probably had eight kids who can play infield or outfield. We were very well balanced."

Then came late-July and the trip to Lakepoint, Georgia for a showcase tournament run by Perfect Game. Perfect Game, a baseball scouting service, operates a variety of showcase tournaments that draw top teams.

Parris said this was his kids' most competitive tournament of the season.

"We played against 64 other 16-under teams from the eastern half of the country. Most were from the South where they play year-round," he said.

His team's unbeaten streak ended with the tourney's first game. A Georgia outfit dominated the local kids 11-3. Their coach was not distraught, nor did he dwell on the loss.

"It had to happen sooner or later. Somebody had to beat us," Parris said. "I told (the players) to go out and start another winning streak."

They did that, but this new streak stopped at three. Another Georgia team beat them 4-2, eliminating them from the tournament.

If Sykesville had won that game, it would have entered the championship round. As it was, the Cyclones' season was over with that loss.

Their coach says the players achieved his goals for them.

"The season was very successful," he said. "The kids gained a lot in skills, and they learned a lot. They became better by playing a lot of baseball."

And as for achieving that .500 record, well, the Sykesville Cyclones achieved that too. They went 34-7-1.

Parris says that his 14 players can all come back next year, and he looks forward to holding the team together into high school.

But it will be tough for it to better this year.

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