C. Milton Wright’s bid for a class 3A state baseball championship fell a couple runs short Saturday night at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.
The Mustangs (13-9) were beaten by the Clippers (16-4) of James M. Bennett, 5-3.
It is the Clippers fourth state championship and first since winning back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012.
The Mustangs were seeking a second crown, having won its lone title in 2010.
The game was a scoreless battle for three solid innings. Both starting pitchers, M.J. Cummings for CMW and Aaron Combs for Bennett, were effective as both faced just 11 batters each over that span.
It changed for the Clippers in the bottom of the fourth inning. They broke open the scoreless game with four runs.
An error with one out, followed by a hit batter, fueled the rally. “I just couldn’t find the strike zone after that pitch, something happened, it just didn’t click well,” said Cummings, who overcame his own errant pickoff throw the inning before to keep the game scoreless. “Other than that, I had a great team behind me.”
Ryan Mitchell reached on the error and it was a Cummings 2-0 pitch that grazed the jersey of Brett Swift.
Anders Brown followed with a single to right field to load the bases and set up the big inning.
Cummings then walked Colby Dailey to force in the first run and Hunter White singled to drive in the second, and equally important, knock Cummings out of the game. “Couple errors that kind of ruined the game, but other than that, we played a helluva game,” Cummings said.
Freshman Max Scurti came on in relief and walked the first batter he faced, Naythan Lewis, to bring in run number three. Dailey scored the fourth run on a Scurti wild pitch.
The Mustangs scored their three runs in the sixth inning to pull within a run.
Eric Brettschneider was hit by pitch to open the top of the sixth inning. Nick Kopczynski followed with walk, but Jake Spurlock’s grounder to third forced Brettschneider out.
Dom Jankovich stepped up and singled into left field, scoring Kopczysnki with the first CMW run, while Spurlock alertly moved first-to-third on the play.
Hunter Wright followed with a groundout to second, scoring Spurlock and the Mustangs top hitter Zach Stiars drove in Jankovich with the third run.
Stiars went 3-for-3 to lead the Mustangs offense. “I just go up there with no plan and swing the bat,” Stiars said. “That’s all I do.”
Lucas Frezza, a freshman, grounded back to Combs to end the inning.
The Mustangs had a little tough luck in the fifth. With one out and runners on first and second, Noah Springer lined sharply, but right at Clippers first baseman Max Taylor. Taylor made the catch and easily doubled off Christian Vinyard at first for the unassisted double play.
The Clippers added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Lewis reached on another Mustangs error with one out and his pinch runner Chase Illian stole second base.
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Scurti struck out the next batter for the second out, but Paul Oscar hit a hard, one-hop, line drive single off the glove of CMW shortstop Brettschneider to plate Illian with the big insurance run.
Oscar, who stole second, tried to add one more run. He tried to score from second on a wild pitch to the screen. CMW catcher Kopczysnki quickly retrieved the ball and tossed to Scurti who tagged Oscar out.
The Mustangs tried to rally in the seventh. Vinyard led off the inning and was hit-by-pitch by reliever Sang Baek. Baek then settled in and got the next three batters out, on two groundouts and a strikeout.
“We’ve got a young team and my motto is ‘we’ll be back,’ Mustangs first-year manager Mike Amaral said. “We’ve got a young team, they bought in, have a young staff, hope they’re hungry now.”
Combs pitched six innings for the win. He allowed four hits, three walks, a hit batter and he struck out three.
Cummings scattered four hits, walked one and hit a batter and he struck out one over three and a third innings.
Scurti pitched two and two-third innings, giving up one hit and three walks. He also struck out three.