The South County Hobos men's slow-pitch softball team hopes to use its recent state championship to propel it to 35-and-over World Series glory.
The Hobos, a squad comprised mostly of South and West countians, won their first 35-and-over National Softball Association Maryland State tournament in Laurel earlier this month.
The victory automatically qualified the Hobos for the Sept. 18-20 World Series Tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
South County went 5-1 in the tourney, scoring 78 runs while batting a robust .548. The champs upended Baltimore's Car Center in two straight games, 12-6 and 20-16, to snare the title -- after losing their first game, 15-9, in a second-round tilt.
"That game was a nightmare for us, but we came back and finished the tournament strong," said Lothian resident Jim Beall, the club's utility infielder and senior member at age 47.
"I think a big key for us is the fact that we've all played with and against each other for at least 15 years. Lots of us have played in the Annapolis City League, and in different county leagues as well."
During their quest for the state championship, the Hobos downed county rival Ashley's Lounge of Glen Burnie, 9-6 and 18-15. In quarterfinal action, South County thwarted the Cheverly American Legion Post 206 Sick Puppies, 10-2.
Pitcher Earl Tilman of Annapolis garnered the tournament's Most Valuable Player award despite suffering a nagging groin injury midway through the tourney. Tilman batted .521 (10-for-19), while shoring up the Hobo defense with his arm and glove.
"He really deserved the MVP. A groin injury isn't easy to play on, and he was still able to tough it out," said Beall, who batted .333 (3-for-9) while filling in at short stop and second base throughout the tournament.
Shortstop Willie Tipton (Davidsonville) led the offensive charge for the winners, batting a torrid .760 (19-for-25), while right fielder/designated hitter Joe O'Connor of Annapolis drilled nine hits in 13 at-bats for a .692 average. Crofton's Ronnie Oliver (right-center field) wound up with a .600 average (12-for-20), smashing a home run in the process.
Jim Beasly of Riverdale (Prince George's County) led the team in homers with three, batting .578 (11-for-19).
Left fielder Eric Weimmer (Crofton) and left-center fielder Harvey Cox (Laurel) sported averages of .578 (11-for-19) and .476 (10-for-21), respectively.
Other contributors included Kent Island native right fielder Mike Davidson (.470, 8-for-17), Annapolis' second baseman Mike Hall (.500, 6-for-12), catcher Jimmy Sherbert of Galesville (.400, 6-for-15) and designated hitter-manager Dennis "Chuckie" Dove of Edgewater (.333, 3-for-9).
Prior to the state tournament, the Hobos finished third in the state qualifier, and second in the Prince George's County 35-and-under league with a record of 15-3, good enough for second place.
"For a bunch of old buzzards, we haven't done too bad," said Beall.
"As long as we don't let our age and fatigue catch up with us, I think we'll be all right. We'd like to improve after finishing in sixth last year in [the 1991 World Series] Cincinnati."