POTOMAC PARK — Funkstown did it again, in typical Funkstown fashion, and left Memorial Field as undisputed Maryland American Legion baseball state champions.
With one big swing, Colby Johnson put Funkstown on top to stay and his name on the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award as the Washington County team beat Damascus 6-2 in Saturday’s tournament finale.
Tied 2-2, Johnson led off the sixth inning by hitting the first pitch from reliever Tyler Rodriguez over the left-center field fence. Funkstown added insurance runs in the eighth and ninth innings.
“Coach told me to be looking for my pitch. I got it, a fastball middle-in, and swung hard,’’ said Johnson, who played at South Hagerstown High. “It feels awesome to win and to be named MVP.”
“Colby’s got big-play potential and was looking dead red to get a pitch he could drive,’’ said Funkstown manager Patrick Moore.
Unbeaten but certainly not untested, Funkstown went 5-0 in winning the state title. There were 1-0 and 4-0 shutouts, but also an 8-6 win over Talbot in 12 innings, and an 11-10 battle with Cecil on Friday.
They escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the ninth against Talbot, and withstood an eight-run eighth against Cecil.
“It’s better to be lucky than good,’’ Johnson said. “But we were pretty confident coming in that we could win it.”
A little luck doesn’t hurt. Good pitching and defense never does, either, and that’s what carried Funkstown to its seventh state crown.
Funkstown had a 1.16 team earned run average for the tournament and played errorless defense in two of their final three games, with two double plays in the final five innings of the championship game. One was a strikeout-caught stealing to end the fifth and the other came on a grounder to short that ended the game.
“I think after day two, after the Talbot game, the guys really believed they were capable of winning this,’’ Moore said. “We just had to keep playing our game, and stick to what we’re good at. And that’s pitching and fielding.”
Damascus went 3-2 in the tournament, the only losses coming to Funkstown. The first was 4-0.
“It was sitting right there for us,’’ said Damascus manager Tommy Davis, whose team trailed 3-2 after seven innings. “We were trying to staff the game with multiple pitchers and to be within a run late in the game was right where we needed to be.
“But we weren’t able to push across a run. I couldn’t be more pleased with the tournament. We played well and lost to a very good ballclub that will represent us well at the regional.”
Funkstown starter J.T. Root and relievers Aaron Roby and Brad Spickler allowed only four hits in seven shutout innings to end the game.
Brandon Toloso went 3 for 5 and Zach Lucas doubled for Funkstown, which outhit Damascus 11-6. Emory McMinn, Casey Bulik and Colin McMahon doubled for Damascus.
Mark Grunberg walked and scored on a sacrifice fly by Lucas in the Funkstown first. Damascus tied it in the bottom half when McMinn doubled and scored on a wild pitch.
Damascus went up 2-1 in the second on an RBI double by Bulik, but Lucas doubled and scored on an infield error in the fifth to knot it and set the stage for Johnsons tie-breaking homer.
A squeeze bunt by Ryan Butts in the eighth and RBI singles by Toloson and Troy Carbaugh in the ninth iced it.
Root got the win, allowing four hits in six innings with six walks and nine strikeouts.
Funkstown will face the Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia state champions in the Mideast Regional in Camden, N.J., Aug. 8-12.
Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. Write to him at email@example.com