PORTAGE – Coming off a 12-run performance and a strong victory on Day 1 of the AAABA Tournament, Maryland State had the right to be confident in its offensive abilities, and Crabfest carried their momentum into Tuesday’s matchup with the Brooklyn Cougars.
Maryland State, with a little extra help from Brooklyn, coasted to a 13-2 victory in seven innings after pounding out 13 hits and capitalizing on 10 errors from the Cougars.
“We really put the pressure on their defense,” Maryland State manager Izzy Taylor said. “Our whole philosophy is to pressure the opposing defense. We swing the bat well, and make them have to make the plays. We were able to capitalize on their mistakes very well.”
Eight of the nine Crabfest starters recorded a hit, with four players tallying multiple hits. However, the lineup only recorded five RBIs combined, which is how many runs were earned out of the 13 that Maryland State scored.
Brooklyn starter Rahsaan Browne tossed 32/3 innings, surrendering eight runs (three earned) on nine hits while walking one and striking out two, along with taking the loss.
Maryland State tallied three, two, one and two runs in the first through fourth innings, respectively, before adding five (two earned) in the fifth off Cougars reliever Justin Schloss.
“It was tough,” Brooklyn manager Eric Jaume said. “We hit into some tough outs, but it’s hard to come back when your defense is not behind your pitcher. He was getting routine balls that should’ve been outs, so it was tough to bounce back from that. They (Maryland State) made the necessary plays.”
Maryland State played error-free defense in the contest, while turning two double plays.
Crabfest right fielder Samuel Canela robbed a home run and first baseman Alex Rivera took away a sure double by snagging a line drive down the line in the fifth inning, nixing Brooklyn’s biggest rally chance after the Cougars hit back-to-back singles to begin the inning.
“Plays like that were huge differences today,” Jaume said. “Robbing a home run and avoiding hits like that are big ways to stop a team from building momentum. That and their pitching staff made big impacts today.”
Maryland State’s Raphael Roman earned the win after throwing four innings, allowing two runs on four hits, while walking and striking out three apiece. Crabfest relievers Tommy Peifley and Jacob Petti combined to allow one hit and two total baserunners over the final three scoreless innings.
Brooklyn’s runs came on a two-RBI hit from Daniel Peña, who had one of the team’s five singles.
“Our pitching came through well,” Taylor said. “We really weren’t sure what to expect to get out of them, but they pounded the strike zone. When you get a big lead, too, that’s all you tell the pitchers to do is go out and throw strikes.”
The Maryland State (2-0) lineup will be key once again on Wednesday, as Likeiry Jimenez (2-for-4, two RBIs) and Jordan Daddio (2-for-3) are set to lead Crabfest against Youngstown.
Taylor said his team’s game plan will remain consistent.
“Same style, same approach,” Taylor said. “We have to go out, be aggressive and play hard. We’re not going to change anything. We have to put the pressure on the opposing team again, and just take this one step at a time.”
Brooklyn (1-1) is going into a matchup against North Carolina, with the Cougars needing a win to move out of pool play. Jaume said the Cougars will be starting No. 1 pitcher Matt Jones against the Disco Turkeys in hopes of advancing.
“We have to have better defense and pitching, definitely,” Jaume said. “We have to get timely hits and bring in the runners we left stranded today to support our pitcher. It’s going to be all hands on deck to get to the next round, and I have total faith in Matt to lead the charge.”