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Coach Brian Reynolds always tells the kids on his Manchester Blue Sox travel baseball team they will learn more from losses than from wins.

Last Sunday, they learned a lot about what happens when you play sloppily in the field against a good opponent. His 9-under Blue Sox took a pounding from the Olney Pirates in Battle of the Bats tournament championship game in Frederick.

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Afterward, it was a long ride from Frederick back to their homes and around Manchester.

Fortunately for those kids, they haven't had many painful lessons like that one because they just haven't lost that much this season.

The weekend before the Blue Sox, who play in the Manchester Baseball Association's travel program, won four of five games to take the championship in Hershey's Bring the Heat tourney.

This is only the second year these kids have been together, and they have already made a name for themselves. Reynolds knows he has an extraordinary group of players.

They have physical talent for sure. As an example, their coach says that 10 of the 11 squad members can pitch if need be. And five or six of those 10 are outstanding on the mound.

"We also have a core of kids with a love of the game that is first and foremost. They have a work ethic that is unbelievable for 9-year-olds," he said.

They Blue Sox got off to a spectacular start last year. They won the 8-under B championship in the Upper Chesapeake Baseball Festival Spring Classic last April. On the year, they finished second in the Mid Atlantic Baseball League's 8-under division.

Because their coach felt they were so talented, he wanted them to have a challenging baseball schedule. So he changed things this season.

Now, they are strictly a tournament team. Reynolds says his pitchers wouldn't get enough work in league play. He felt that top level tournaments were the only way he could get his pitchers and position players the consistently strong opposition that would develop their skills.

"We enter only A level regional tournaments because we want good competition in every one. We'll see some really quality teams," Reynolds said.

In early April, they played in Olney's Mutiny in the Park tourney and made it to the semifinals. Then on April 22-23, the locals journeyed to Bring the Heat.

The Carroll County kids brought plenty of heat of their own. After splitting two pool games and winning their first three games in the championship round, the Blue Sox faced the Pennsylvania-based Mid-State Mavericks in the title game.

They handled things relatively easily in that one. The Sox cruised steadily to a 7-2 lead and went on to win the game 8-4.

Gavin Larson and Daniel Reynolds each went 3-for-4 to pace the winners. Larson had three doubles and four RBI while Reynolds had a triple and double.

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Benjamin McGrew had a hit and run scored in that final and in each of the previous two games played that day.

"Everybody was thrilled. We had six returning players who knew what it was like to win. But the five new guys had never experienced winning at that level," Reynolds said. "We are definitely a well-balanced, multidimensional team. Our pitchers throw strikes, and they are getting to the point where they can hit the spot where the catcher puts the glove.

"We can also put runs on the board when we play our best."

With the Hershey championship in hand, the Manchester squad headed to Frederick last weekend expecting to win again. They did, for three games.

They opened by hammering the Renegades 20-3. Ryan Noel was 2-for-2 with three runs scored, and Colby Howdyshell was 3-for-3, scoring three runs. Thomas McGrew had two walks and three runs scored.

Tanner Robertson went 2-for-2 and was on base four times. He drove in four runs.

Game two was another rout, a 17-0 win over the LOUYAA Thunder.

Daniel Reynolds was 3-for-3 with a walk, double, triple and four RBIs. Cayden Murray was 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI.

Manchester won the third game 13-0 over the Aldie (Va.) Senators. Tanner Robertson threw a four-inning no-hitter, fanning eight.

Grady Magin had a double, RBI and run scored. Liam Ziegenfuss was 2-for-2 with two runs scored and one driven in.

Finally, Aaron Barnes was 1-for-1, but that hit started a seven-run second inning that broke open the scoreless game.

But then came the Olney Pirates Sunday. And they ripped the Blue Sox 15-0.

Reynolds explained what happened.

"We had a lot of miscues, and the Pirates were one of the top two teams we've faced all year. [My players] learned from that, and that's all you can ask," Reynolds said.

He says his kids want payback.

"They and the Lake Shore [Anne Arundel County] Graysox are on our bucket list of teams to beat. [The Graysox] have beaten us in several one-run games," Reynolds said.

The way they have played this season, it would be inadvisable to bet against the Blue Sox getting revenge on one or both of these opponents before long.

Perhaps it will be Manchester giving out the lessons before the season is over.

410-857-7896

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