FUNKSTOWN — Garrett County Post 71/214 head coach Phil Carr was confident in his squad entering the Maryland state tournament Monday — even he didn’t expect what transpired.
After manufacturing nine runs on just four hits against Cecil County starter Austin Oliver, Post 71/214 ate its reliever alive, batting around and hitting safely nine times to plate nine in the fifth inning to go up 19-0.
Cecil avoided the shutout with three runs in the bottom half, but it wasn’t enough to avoid the run-rule, as Garrett cruised to a 19-3 victory to open its postseason slate at Funkstown Community Park.
“We didn’t swing it real well early, but we didn’t have a lot to swing at,” Carr said of his team that walked seven times during the first three frames. “We were opportunistic.
“Then we started to hit as we went along. Isaac (Upole) did a good job because the scouting reports that we had were that they could swing it a little bit, especially their top five guys could hit. ... He had a lot of strikeouts, and we played pretty good defense.”
Upole didn’t necessarily have his best stuff, struggling at times with the zone — still, he did more than enough to lead his squad to victory.
The left-hander allowed two runs in 4 1/3 innings on four hits, striking out six and walking five.
When Cecil pressured Upole during the first two frames, putting two runners on base in each frame, Upole rose to challenge.
He got out of his second-inning jam with some nifty glovework, flipping a tricky chopper between first and the mound with his glove to escape the pressure and preserve a 7-0 lead.
“He wasn’t getting a ton of strikeouts early, working some deep counts,” Carr said. “He did a good job. First couple innings they got two on but he got out of it. He’s calm because he’s surrounded by a good defense. If I get in a jam I can trust the guys around me, I don’t have to do it all by myself.”
Upole was also Garrett’s top man at the dish. The rising senior batted 4 for 4 with three RBIs, a double and he tattooed a 3-1 fastball over the left-center fence for a two-run home run for Post 71/214’s opening runs of the day.
Will Moon slashed 3 for 5 with a double and three ribbies; Jake Rush hit safely twice — including a run-scoring double — and walked twice; Zach Hallenbeck had two hits, two RBIs and reached base five times; and Chance Ritchey had a pair of base knocks.
As a team, Garrett tallied 16 hits Cecil’s five, led by James Able’s single and two walks.
Oliver looked to have good stuff with a tailing fastball and crisp breaking pitches, but he struggled with his command and his defense let him down.
Just three of Oliver’s eight runs were earned, the big blow a bases-clearing throwaway by Cecil’s shortstop on a Mason Brenneman grounder that should’ve been the third out — Cecil’s third error in the opening two innings.
With the win, Garrett advanced to a winners-bracket game Tuesday, where it beat Damascus, 13-0, behind two more home runs by Upole and an inspired start by Mason Brenneman.