BERLIN- The magic finally ran out for Stephen Decatur’s boys’ varsity baseball team, which fell, 6-5, to visiting La Plata in another tense, tight state playoff game last Saturday.
The Seahawks had been living on the edge on their magical run through the state 3A-South region, but couldn’t capitalize on some late opportunities against La Plata last Saturday in the regional championship game. Decatur beat Bayside rival Bennett with a walk-off bases-loaded walk last week in nine innings after three hours and 40 minutes.
Last Wednesday, Decatur went extras again against Northeast and prevailed in eight innings, 4-3, on a walk-off double by Justin Meekins, capping off a contest in which the Seahawks had to come back three different times in the late innings. Against La Plata on Saturday, it appeared for a while the same scenario was playing out, but the Seahawks couldn’t get the clutch hit when they needed it most late in the game.
La Plata took a 5-0 lead in the first two innings, but the Seahawks, who had battled back on multiple occasions during their run through the region playoffs would rally again. Decatur scored four in the third inning to cut the lead to 5-4, and then tied it at 5-5 with a run in the fourth. For a while, it appeared the Seahawks were going to pull out another dramatic win, but they couldn’t pick up a run in the late innings despite opportunities.
In the bottom of the fifth with one out, Justin Meekins hit a deep fly into the right field corner that dropped in and Meekins chugged all the way around to third with less than two outs. However, Chase Coursey hit a come-backer to the pitcher, who was able to hold Meekins at third before firing to first for the second out. Jake Hickman then fanned with a runner at third and two outs.
In the bottom of the sixth and the game still tied at 5-5, Andrew Borradaile led off with a sharp single to left center. The next batter attempted a sacrifice bunt to move Borradaile to second, but a wild pitch accomplished the mission. The batter then walked, putting runners on first and second with no outs for Decatur. Ryan Bennett then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move runners to second and third with one out.
Lane Dillon then hit a comeback to the mound and Borradaile was caught in a rundown between third and home before being tagged out at the plate. Still, Decatur had runners on first and second with two outs, but a Nick Bennett grounder to short ended the threat.
In the top of the seventh, La Plata got a leadoff base hit up the middle, followed by another single to right to put runners on the corners with no outs. A walk loaded the bases with no outs and Decatur had its back to the wall again. The next batter hit a fly ball to medium depth center and the runner from third tagged and scored the go-ahead run despite a nice throw to the plate that was just a little late.
Nick Bennett then struck out the next two batters to end the threat, but the go-ahead run had scored to make it 6-5 with one last chance for the Seahawks. With two dramatic playoff wins already in the books, the big crowd sensed another magical finish was possible, but Decatur went quietly in the bottom of the seventh as the La Plata pitcher struck out the side.
The loss did little to tarnish what was a remarkable season for the Seahawks, who won their first-ever Bayside Conference championship before embarking on their dramatic quest for a state regional title.