From Staff Reports
POTOMAC PARK — It took the defending state champions and a former major league pitcher to stop the Tri-State Titans Saturday in the Maryland Semi-Pro Baseball State championship game at Hamilton Field.
Jay Witasick, a 12-year big league veteran who most recently pitched for the New York Yankees, got out of a bases-loaded jam and tossed three shutout innings to help the Susquehanna Assault top the Titans, 6-5, and win the Maryland state championship for the second year in a row.
The Titans, who won the local Pen-Mar WV League, beat the Frederick Flying Dogs 7-0 in the semifinals, while the Assault, winners of the Susquehanna League, beat the Cancun Bulls of Baltimore 4-0.
In the final, the Assault took advantage of five early errors and scored six unearned runs over the first four innings for a 6-0 lead.
Tri-State put together a big inning in the seventh. Down 6-0, Jacob Foreman led off with a single, and walks to Cody Ellsworth and Bryce Nightengale loaded the bases. Pinch-hitter Chris Fram and Tristan Beyer were hit by pitches to force home runs, and Brian Powell had an RBI infield single to make it 6-3.
Witasick, who had a 32-41 career record and 4.64 ERA in the majors with stints with the Athletics, Royals, Padres, Yankees, Giants and Rockies, gave up an infield RBI single to Billy Reams and Casey Clinton reached on an infield error that cut the Assault lead to 6-5.
Witasick got out of the inning and earned a save by pitching the final three innings. He gave up three hits and struck out three and was later named Championship Game XVII MVP.
With Foreman mowing down the Assault with 6 2-3 strong innings of relief work, the Titans put together one last rally in the ninth.
Beyer led off with a single off Witasick, but the Assault picked off a pinch-runner and got a ground out before Matt Wright hit a two-out single to center. Witasick got the final out on a ground out.
Beyer had two singles and an RBI and Powell and Reams RBI singles for Tri-State. Ellsworth and Foreman combined for seven strikeouts and no earned runs.
Loronada had three doubles and two RBIs for the Assault.
Tri-State finished the season with a 27-3 record, and had also finished runner-up in the state in 2010. The Titans won the state championship in 2002 and 2009.
Brian Powell fired a two-hit shutout and Bryce Nightengale doubled, singled twice and knocked in three runs to lead the Titans past the Frederick Flying Dogs in the semifinals.
Billy Reams hit two doubles, Matt Wright had a two-run double, and Casey Clinton and Tristan Beyer an RBI double each.
Tri-State led 2-0 until getting two runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth.
Powell, who finished the season 9-0, walked two and struck out nine in the nine-inning game.
The Flying Dogs, of the Mid-Maryland League, finished the year 21-9-2.