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Well, it looked like a great night on paper

When you do scheduling for your staff for a number of years, the weeks run into months and they all seem about the same. Reporter "A" covers Game "B," Reporter "X" covers Game "Y," lather, rinse, repeat.

Occasionally, though, a day jumps out as being noteworthy, interesting and potentially quite memorable for those of us who work in the sports section at a local newspaper.

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A week or so ago, Friday, Oct. 17 looked like such a day.

Three events in particular made Friday look like a can't-miss day for fans of local and regional sports. In chronological order of starting times, they were ...

• The county golf tournament. When last week began with South Carroll, North Carroll, Westminster and Century were in a four-way fight for the county title, with South Carroll having to play a match at North Carroll on Tuesday followed by a tri-match between the Owls, Cavs and Knights on Thursday. It all figured to make the championship come down to the county tournament, making it quite possible that deciding the top team in the county would come down to one score, maybe one hole, and be decided by a single player doing something unexpected.

• The South Carroll-Liberty football game. Heading into Friday night South Carroll was atop the county standings, but by the slimmest of margins. The Cavaliers were 3-0 in county play, but Liberty, Manchester Valley, North Carroll, and Westminster were all at 2-1. With the latter three teams favored to win, a Liberty victory at home seemed a very plausible scenario and it would've sent the county race into chaos, with five teams tied for first and only three weeks to go.

• Game Six of the American League Championship Series. The Baltimore Orioles would be coming back to Camden Yards to face the Kansas City Royals. The possibility existed that this would be the night the Orioles wrapped up the series and advanced to the World Series for the first time since 1983.

Funny how things work out.

The county golf tournament was rendered essentially meaningless — at least in terms of determining the team title — because South Carroll took care of business before the tournament ever began. The Cavs beat North Carroll on the Panthers' home course then won a tight match against Westminster and Century on the Owls' home course. All South Carroll had to do was finish fourth at the county tourney to assure a second consecutive county championship. And the Cavs were about as likely to finish fifth or lower as their top player, C.J. Smith, was of shooting 120. Smith fired a 72 to win the individual title and the Cavs won the tournament by three strokes to become the first Carroll golf team to go 7-0 against county competition and then win the tournament, too.

Athletes from South Carroll weren't done spoiling the suspense on Friday, either.

The South Carroll-Liberty football game, which looked so good on paper, didn't look quite as good on the field. Unless, of course, you were a Cavaliers' fan. South Carroll jumped on top of Liberty early and wound up winning 42-0. In a season filled with lopsided scores, this one might've been either the most surprising or the most impressive, depending on how you look at it. The victory kept the Cavs in control of their county championship destiny and also went a long way toward getting them back into the playoffs for the sixth year in a row.

Speaking of playoffs, there was no playoff game in Baltimore on Friday.

But you already knew that. And the Orioles are now a most unsightly 1-7 all-time in ALCS play at Camden Yards.

In what has been a crazy, unpredictable MLB postseason, the Royals' sweep of the Orioles has to qualify as one of the most stunning outcomes.

The sweep was a major victory for lovers of the underdog, as well as a major downer for Orioles fans. It was also a setback for the statheads who believe all baseball answers lie in advanced metrics.

A strikeout by a batter is perceived as no worse than any other out and a sacrifice bunt is deemed sacrilege by the nerds, er, experts who believe math wins championships. They may be correct over the course of a 162-game season. But in a short series, when every game is a must-win situation, putting the ball in play, putting pressure on the defense and finding ways to scratch out a run here and there without benefit of an RBI hit can make all the difference.

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The Royals did all that and much more, looking like the far superior team even though they were merely the fifth-best team in the American League over that 162-game season, which is looking more and more meaningless with a pair of wild-card teams, not good enough to win their own divisions, playing in the World Series.

No one expected these two to be the last teams standing. But, then, no one in our office expected Friday to be so anticlimactic, either.

Bob Blubaugh is the Times' sports editor. His column appears every Sunday. Reach him at 410-857-7895 or bob.blubaugh@carrollcountytimes.com.

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