Meade got to dig up some more dirt on July 15 after his troops rallied for five runs in the final inning to out slug the LF Archers 16-12 in the Piedmont Division postseason tournament championship game.
“This year, it as all about the kids,” Meade said. “They really came through, and I couldn’t be happier for them.”
He said those little dirt samples meant more to the players than the trophies did.
But credit should also go to him and his assistant coaches Brian White, Kerry Bodmer, and Steve Vallance. They took a bunch of youngsters who had never played baseball together and molded them into a champion.
Meade said the players were quickly run from one teaching station to another with Meade or an assistant coach presiding over each. They were drilled in skills that enabled them to play more than one position, something consistent with Meade’s running philosophy of coaching.
“It’s my responsibility as their coach to prepare them for high school,” he said. “If they can hold their own as pitchers, infielders and outfielders, they are three-dimensional. They have three chances to make the team.”
All 13 of his players got to pitch for example. And, all 13 players batted in the games.
However, his team started slowly while the kids were learning to play together. Mount Airy lost its opener, won four games in a row and then lost two more. After seven games, Post 191 was 4-3. Then things clicked.
Post 191 won all 14 league games after that to finish first with an 18-3 record, just edging out the 17-2 Lake Shore Blue Sox.
But the kids didn't get there by slugging.
“In our 52 games, we batted .320. We weren’t a very powerful team with a .382 slugging percentage,” Meade said. “But on the base paths, we wreaked havoc. We stole 367 bases. We only got caught 33 times; that’s over 90 percent. We were crazy fast.”
They weren’t as successful in their tournaments as they were in the league, although Post 191 managed to make the semifinals in several of those.
Things went their way in the Mid-Atlantic postseason fray, which began July 10 in New Market.
In its opening game, Mount Airy's kids scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to overcome Western Howard County Black's 2-0 lead and later won 4-2. Thomas Grace and Colin Gregowich each had two hits for the winners. Grace also pitched a seven-inning complete game, fanning nine.
In Game 2, Post 191 survived a five-run rally in the sixth inning and hung on to beat the Lake Shore BlueSox 9-6. Braeden Vallance and Sam Starrs each drove in two runs for the winners.
Game 3 saw Post 191 beat Revolution 11-1 behind a 13-hit attack. Brady Etzel, Grace, Vallance, and Cameron McGrady each had two hits.
Game 4 was a wild one that saw Mount Airy out-slug the LF Archers 18-8. The winners scored six runs in both the fourth and fifth inning to pull away.
Vallance led the way with three his and four RBIs.
The following day, Post 191 played another high-scoring game, beating WHC White 13-7. It scored four runs in both the fourth and sixth innings.
His kids were now 5-0 in the double-elimination divisional tournament. They only had to upend the once-beaten Archers to clinch it.
Meade wanted their streak to stop at six, and it did.
The championship game later in the day saw Mount Airy face the Archers again.
This was another slug fest, however it was a lot closer than the first one.
In fact, Mount Airy was losing 12-11 as it came to bat in the last inning. Steven Spencer then got perhaps the biggest Mount Airy hit of the series — with his team down by a run, he singled in two runs to put it ahead, 13-12.
It went on the score three more runs in the inning to clinch the game.
Camilo Pardo, Bodmer, and Grace had three hits apiece in that final. Gregowich and Vallance each drove in three runs.
Two other players had strong overall accomplishments in the series.
Meade, who walked eight times, had a .611 on-base percentage for the six games. Catcher Austin Turley threw out all 12 attempted base-stealers.
“I was shocked that they kept running," Meade said with a laugh.
He said his players didn’t want to see the season end. That’s not terribly surprising since they won their final 20 Central Maryland League baseball games.
“It was great to see the joy in the kids’ faces (after the championship game). They piled up on top of each other and threw water all over each other," said Meade. “And I got to see it come to fruition.”