xml:space="preserve">
The Sykesville Cyclones 16U travel baseball team recently won titles at the Middle Atlantic Baseball Association and Cove Creek Classic tournaments. Front row, kneeling: Brandon Will, Trent Smoot, Matt Born, Trevor Smoot, Michael Parris, Jack Bulakites. Standing: Coach Charles Smoot, Cameron Ciampaglia, Bill Scanlon, Jake Diehl, Seth Stapleton, Jared Lamb, Joe Rekus, Coach Todd Lamb, Head Coach Dwayne Parris.
The Sykesville Cyclones 16U travel baseball team recently won titles at the Middle Atlantic Baseball Association and Cove Creek Classic tournaments. Front row, kneeling: Brandon Will, Trent Smoot, Matt Born, Trevor Smoot, Michael Parris, Jack Bulakites. Standing: Coach Charles Smoot, Cameron Ciampaglia, Bill Scanlon, Jake Diehl, Seth Stapleton, Jared Lamb, Joe Rekus, Coach Todd Lamb, Head Coach Dwayne Parris. (Submitted photo)

Travel baseball coach Dwayne Parris was recently discussing a problem that any coach would dearly love to have.

His Sykesville Cyclones were in Charlottesville, Va., where they had just won four games to win the Cove Creek Classic baseball tournament.The previous weekend they won the Middle Atlantic Baseball Association's 16-under division postseason tournament.

Advertisement

He was trying to figure out which of the two titles was more important to him and his team.

Parris finally decided that winning the MABA was more important. That was because his Cyclones had invested their entire season in the league instead of just a weekend.And additionally, they are a 15-under team that won the championship from a bunch of 16-unders.

Sykesville has finished first or second in each of its seven years of play in the MABA.

Last season, seeing the success his team was having, Parris decided to make things a little more competitive for his players.

He placed his then-14-under team up in MABA's 15-under division. The Cyclones played well there and finished second in the regular season.However rain kept league officials from completing the league's postseason tournament.

With 10 of his 13 players returning, Parris had a solid core for this season. So, he and assistant coaches Todd Lamb and Charles Smoot again decided to play up a notch.

"Our goal was to finish in the top two in both the regular season and the tournament. We thought we had as good a chance as anybody in the league," Parris said.

The Cyclones started with a roar, winning their first seven games. But then came a rough stretch.

"We had a lot of games on the schedule. In that short period of time, it was tough to keep the kids focused on baseball. We also had a couple of bad games where we didn't field well or get the big hits," Parris explained. The losses quickly piled up.

His team recovered though, and won six of its last seven games. But its 14-6 record was second to the Howard County Youth Program (HCYP) Raiders-D'Alonzo team which finished first with a 15-3 mark.

Parris though, wasn't put off by his second-place finish.

"We had a few days to rest. I thought we had a good opportunity to win the (MABA) tournament. The important thing was to arrange our pitching. But most of the kids could pitch. Our pitching and defense were good, and our hitting was okay. The pitching and defense had to keep us in the game, and we had to get enough hits to score some runs," he said.

Sykesville had all but one of its games in the July 8-10 championship tournament held at Freedom Park.

The locals started fast in their opening game and held an 8-3 lead in the seventh inning. But they had to survive a four-run outburst by Forest Hill before hanging on to win 8-7.

Advertisement

Trent Smoot had two hits and three RBI for the winners. Jared Lamb added a two-run triple.

The Cyclones' pitching took over in the next two games. First, they beat Elkridge 5-2 behind hurlers Joe Rekus and Jake Diehl who combined for seven strikeouts. Rekus also went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.

They then blanked the HCYP Raiders-Fagan 16-under team 11-0. Winning pitcher Trent Smoot, staked to a 10-run lead in the very first inning, cruised to a complete game and allowed only three hits.Cameron Ciampaglia and Rekus each had two hits and two RBI. Lamb added two RBI for Sykesville.

Then they faced some kids their own age-the HCYP Raiders-D'Alonzo 15-under team. Bu they lost 18-5.

"We just didn't play good baseball. We made some errors and didn't hit well," Parris recounted.

However, he wanted to wipe the slate clean.

"Afterward, I told them that the game was over and to put it behind us," Parris said. "We would have to play good team defense and make them earn their runs. We'd have to hit in key situations and score some runs."

The walloping knocked Sykesville into the tournament losers' bracket. They first had to get past the HCYP-Fagan 16-under Raiders team to get a shot at the championship round. They did this by blanking the Fagan squad 2-0 behind Lamb's complete-game, three-hitter. Lamb struck out eight.

That left the Raiders' younger mates, the 15-under D'Alonzo team.

Ironically two 15-under teams, each with one loss, were playing for the championship of a 16-under baseball league.

The Cyclones won 4-2. They scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning and two more in the sixth. HCYP scored single tallies in the fifth and seventh.

Stapleton and Trent Smoot each went 3-for-3 in the game.

"We were excited and proud of how well the boys played that weekend and how they came back to beat the team that beat us. It was great to see our players rebound and play so well in the championship game," Parris said.

The following weekend, they traveled to Virginia for the Cove Creek tournament. The five opponents in the tourney field were all 15-under teams.

The Cyclones got off to a fast start against the Charlotte-area based Outlaws. They erupted for 10 runs in the third inning and went on to win 14-4. Ciampaglia pitched a two-hit complete game.

They faced Arlington Baseball in Game 2. This time the pitching took total control as Trent Smoot, Diehl, and Parris combined to throw a no-hitter. Parris hurled the final two pressure-packed innings.

Arlington scored a run on a bases-loaded walk, but Sykesville won 11-1. Jack Bulakites and Ethan Kiple each went 3-for-3, and each had three RBIs.

Sykesville then blanked the Hitmen 5-0 behind Lamb's two-hit complete game. Lamb fanned nine in the seven-inning shutout.

In the championship game, Sykesville nipped the Richmond-based F-150's 7-5. The Cyclones had built a 7-0 lead before the 150's rallied for five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.

But Stapleton closed out that inning and held the 150s scoreless on one hit over the final two frames to preserve the win and the tourney title.

"We've had good team chemistry for years. They all know each other and know what the other players will do in certain situations.They just play well as a group," said Parris, who has coached five of those players since they were five year-olds in Sykesville's in-house rec baseball league.

The coach again talked about the importance of his team's winning the MABA 16-under league this year. First, he said that winning a league with teams a year older will significantly strengthen his players in terms of confidence and experience. This will make them more successful in their own high school careers.

And second, it was really fun to win like that.

"My players are only freshmen and sophomores, and they played against teams where all of the players were on high school varsity teams. To be successful against them was very rewarding," he said.

410-857-7896

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement