Madden rounds third

Allegany’s Griffin Madden high-fives head coach Jon Irons as he rounds third base following a two-run home run against St. Maria Goretti during the fourth inning on Monday in Cumberland. Goretti won, 4-2, in an extra-inning thriller.

CUMBERLAND, Md. — For the first time this season, Allegany wasn’t the better team in the decisive moments.

Twice the Campers brought the go-ahead score to third base with one out in the late innings against St. Maria Goretti on Monday, and both times they came up empty-handed.

With new life, Goretti first baseman Warner Harper struck a two-run homer with two down in the ninth, and Allegany couldn’t muster a response to lose, 4-2, in an extra-inning thriller.

The defeat was the Campers’ first of the season, as they fall to 15-1. The 15-game winning streak to begin the year was the school’s longest since 2014 (16).

“It was a great baseball game, and they’re a very good baseball team,” Allegany head coach Jon Irons said. “We had opportunities at times where we could’ve ended the game, and we didn’t seize those opportunities.

“I’ve talked all year about situational baseball and being able to do your job at the time it needs to be done, and tonight we didn’t do it. We let them hang around so long that eventually they broke through.”

Allegany was in rare territory through 15 games. With two more wins, the Campers would’ve been the Area’s first team to go unbeaten in the regular season since Southern in 2002.

The last Allegany team to achieve the feat was the 1934 squad, which went 11-0.

Allegany struck out 17 times Monday and struggled with Goretti lefthander Parker Sweeney, a Virginia Tech commit, and his darting off-speed deliveries — still, the Campers had two pristine chances to extend the streak.

In the eighth, Darian Bauer legged out an infield single with one away, and Griffin Madden notched a base hit to center that pushed the winning run to third.

However, Goretti right-hander Ty Hames tossed a strikeout and a fly-out to center to get out of dodge and set up Harper’s go-ahead bomb.

Before the extra innings, Allegany had second and third with one away in the sixth and couldn’t capitalize. Alex Kennell made the right read but was tagged out at home trying to score on a wild pitch, coming up just inches short, and Sweeney registered the final out of the inning with his 11th and final strikeout.

Despite starting five sophomores, three freshmen and no seniors in the field, Goretti played well beyond its years, making more plays in the big moments to leave Cumberland with a win to improve to 19-4.

“What a tremendous high school baseball game, Griffin Madden is the real deal,” Goretti head coach Greg Eversole said. “I’m very proud of my young boys the way they’ve played to be 19-4. We’ve been opportunistic. This group just competes. Nobody is above anybody else, they just do their job.”

Madden was every bit as good as Sweeney on the mound, as the Allegany right-hander allowed two unearned runs on two hits in 5 2/3 innings pitched with 10 Ks and three walks in the no decision.

Madden didn’t have command of his breaking stuff in the early innings, causing him to rack up pitches and exit the game in the sixth, but the James Madison commit battled to give the Campers a chance.

The low-scoring affair mirrored Allegany’s contest against Frankfort last Monday. Unlike that game, which the Campers left with a 2-1 walk-off victory, they couldn’t get it done late.

“I thought for sure we were winning,” Irons said. “I just believe in these guys that much, and they’re tough kids. We weren’t tough today. I don’t think we came with a tough mindset, and that’s uncharacteristic.”

Goretti lead-off man Colin Fulmer erased a scoreless game with a two-RBI single to center in the second inning.

Allegany answered in the fourth. Bauer was plunked in the back on the first pitch of the inning, and Madden tattooed a 1-1 pitch to left field that nearly hit the school. Madden’s tying shot was the Campers’ first base hit of the game.

Sweeney put up back-to-back zeroes in the fifth and sixth innings to pass the baton to Hames, who tossed three scoreless in relief to register as the winning pitcher.

Sweeney’s final line was two runs on three hits with 11 strikeouts and two walks in six innings pitched. The freshman didn’t blow anybody away with his velocity, but his pinpoint command and mix of speeds kept the Allegany line-up off-balance all game.

“He has confidence as a pitcher,” Eversole said. “He was upset that I wouldn’t put him back out there, but the boy that followed him was another freshman, and he’s going to be legit too. ... It’s so exciting to have such a youthful group and be as successful as we are.”

Allegany left-handed pitcher Demetri Bascelli pitched well in relief of Madden. He allowed two runs on one hit and one walk with a strikeout in 3 1/3 inning of work. Unfortunately for Bascelli, that one hit left the yard, and he took the loss.

Bryce Madden doubled for the Campers’ lone extra-base hit. Allegany out-hit Goretti, 6-3, and had one fewer error, 2-1. All four of Goretti’s runs came with two outs.

Allegany will look to bounce back at home against No. 3 Mountain Ridge at home on Tuesday in a game that doesn’t count for for postseason seeding.

While the Campers’ bid at regular-season perfection is over, the most important part of their season is ahead. The Area’s last unbeaten team, Southern in 2002, didn’t win the last game of the season.

Allegany intends to.

“Hopefully it helps emphasize in their minds the stuff that we’ve been preaching to them all year,” Irons said. “Sometimes it’s hard to get a message across when you’re up 10-0.

“Maybe that will start to resonate with them going into the playoffs.”

Alex Rychwalski is a sports reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.

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