Team Maryland Wins Heartland Classic

BERLIN- Team Maryland, with Stephen Decatur’s Justin Meekins and Bennett’s Simon Palenchar, won its first-ever Heartland Baseball Classic championship in Oklahoma last weekend.

Team Maryland made history last weekend by beating defending champion Team Texas, 4-0, in the Heartland Classic’s championship game last Saturday. Team Maryland went 4-2 in pool play throughout last week, beating Oklahoma, 6-5, Georgia, 8-1, Ohio, 6-5 and Colorado, 11-0. The team’s two losses came to defending champion Texas, 11-1, and Arkansas, 6-2.

The 4-2 record earned Team Maryland the number-two seed in the championship bracket and a shot at a rematch with Texas, which had beat them earlier in the week in pool play. The championship game between Maryland and Texas was also a rematch of the 2008 Heartland Classic title game.

Team Maryland featured high school players from all over the state including two from the Bayside Conference in Meekins and Palenchar, both of whom contributed in last week’s championship run. Meekins, a rising senior at Decatur, just finished a remarkable season for the Seahawks and won Bayside Conference Player of the Year honors. He batted an astounding .533 during the regular season. Beyond his offensive prowess, Meekins emerged as a leader on the Seahawk team that advanced far in the state playoffs and provided a steady glove at shortstop all season.

Meanwhile, Palenchar was the leader of the Bennett team that rivaled Decatur all season. Palenchar drove in the fourth and final run during the Heartland championship game last Saturday. Palenchar is bound for Radford University next year where he will continue his baseball career. Meanwhile, Meekins, who still has another year at Decatur, has accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Maryland.