They say in sports that you learn more from losing than from winning.
If that's true, the players on this year's Sykesville Cyclones 17-under baseball team have been really fabulous teachers.
They have been particularly helpful in teaching their counterparts in the Mid-Atlantic Baseball Association the nuts and bolts of the game.
Coach Dwayne Parris said they’ve never finished lower than second place in MABA since they joined eight years ago.
This year was no exception. They were 12-0 and first in the league’s Varsity Weeknight Division. There was no postseason tournament, but there’s a good chance Sykesville would have won that, too.
This year’s team was much like the others; Sykesville was good all around. The players could each handle multiple positions.They were very versatile; all 14 of them pitched at one time or the other. Ten became regulars on the mound, either as starters or relievers.
They held opponents to a .195 batting average. The other MABA teams scored 25 runs in the Cyclones’ 12 league games.
The pitching staff was greatly helped by its defense.
The Cyclones weren’t a slugging bunch, but they could still hit and run the bases. The Cyclones batted .333 and stole 84 bases in their 34 games.
Ryan Clatterbuck led the team with 16 steals, and Gerrett Geidel was second with nine.
Many of players came from the Eldersburg and Sykesville and area. Because they are high school players, Parris entered the team into several college showcase tournaments this season. They made an impression on the scouts and coaches who attended.
Three players from last year who aged out of the team before this season all played college baseball this spring.
Sykesville also played in several regular tournaments this summer. One was rained out after a couple of games. The Cyclones were 2-1 in June’s Perfect Game 17-under tournament in Staten Island, New York but didn’t make it to the championship round.
However, they did get a chance to experience tournament championship pressure one time this year, and they came out on top.
From July 13-15, they were in Delaware for the Sports at the Beach tournament and went 5-1 to take the title.
The Cyclones opened by hammering Catonsville 13-3. They put this one away early by scoring five runs in the first inning and six in the second.
Matt Born was the winning pitcher. Billy Scanlon, who led the team with three home runs, was 2-for-3, as was Ethan Kiple. Clatterbuck had two RBIs and scored two runs. So did Brandon Will.
The Cyclones lost Game 2 to the Dundalk-based Chesapeake Trojans and were was held to three hits. But Sykesville recovered its hitting touch and scored an 11-6 win over New York-based Team Citius.
Jared Lamb was 2-for-3 with three runs scored. Kiple and Trent Smoot had two RBIs.
The Cyclones then qualified for the championship round by blasting the Bagel Bombers 14-1 in their final pool game.
Trent Smoot, who caught all six games in the tournament, scored two runs in this one. Clatterbuck went 2-for-2 with three RBIs. Kiple drove in three runs and Born had two.
Sykesville’s semifinal game against Catonsville was their most exciting game of the tournament. The Cylones had a 5-2 lead after four innings before Catonsville went ahead 6-5 in the fifth. The Cyclones tied it 6-6 in the bottom of that frame.
It stayed that way through the sixth and seventh. Kiple, still pitching in extra innings, escaped a bases-loaded threat in the eighth.
In the bottom of the inning, Born doubled in Harfield to win it 7-6.
Kiple and Scanlon combined for 15 strikeouts.
Clatterbuck got three hits while Trent Smoot and and Born each had two.
That brought on Chesapeake again, this time for the championship. Sykesville jumped ahead 4-0 with a run in the first and three in the second.
The Trojans scored three in the home second, but Lamb blanked them for the next four innings before being relieved by Kiple.
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Sykesville won 7-3.
Lamb allowed four hits and fanned nine in the win.
Trent Smoot was 3-for-4. Lamb, Born, Parris and Clatterbuck were each 2-for-4.
Dwayne Parris said this run is nearing its end, however — next summer will be the last local baseball season for this group.
“We will play four or five tournaments and that finishes off the team,” Parris said. “They’ll play their last season together as Cyclones.”
Parris’ squad won’t play in MABA next summer but leaves a memorable record behind.
“Our kids had quite a run; they’ve been together since they were 8 years old,” Parris said. “It’s been just a pleasure to watch the kids grow up and become the men they are now. They’ve learned about the game and learned about themselves.”