A key player down the stretch for the Cal Ripken League Champion Bethesda Big Train, catcher Justin Morris was named the CRCBL League Championship Series Most Outstanding Player. In four playoff games (three in the championship series) Morris hit .500 (6-for-12), with two doubles, four RBIs, five runs scored and three walks. In the decisive championship game Sunday, his bases-clearing three-run double provided all the offense Big Train would need in a 4-2 victory.
Morris hit .308 with three homers, 12 RBIs and 13 walks in 20 regular season contests for Big Train this summer. He’s coming off a spring season in which he hit .211 with five homers, but came on strong at the end, hitting .267 in the final 14 games, including a .350 mark in the Big Ten Tournament.
“Some things started clicking for me,” he said of his success late in the spring and this summer. “Just seeing consistent pitching every day I felt like I got in the zone at the plate and I carried that over here into the summer.”
The rising senior backstop spent four summers in the Ripken League with Bethesda, winning championships in the last two, and caps off his final summer ball season with his LCS award.
“It was special, man, I’ve looked forward to every year coming back here,” Morris said. “[The coaches here] kept things loose for me and trusted in me and let me be myself out there and it felt good to win the last two.”
Elsewhere in summer ball, second baseman Nick Dunn and outfielder Marty Costes have both heated up recently after slow starts with the Cape Cod League’s Brewster Whitecaps. Dunn is riding a 16-game hitting streak, during which he has raised his average from .237 to .339. The rising junior hit his first homer of the summer in his final at-bat Monday to keep the streak alive, and was named the CCBL Player of the Week as a result.
His Terps and Whitecaps teammate Marty Costes has also come on strong of late, hitting in seven of his last eight contests to raise his average over 100 points, from .197 to .302. His five homers rank and .535 slugging percentage rank second on Brewster, while his 21 RBIs are third.
Left-hander Tyler Blohm had an up-and-down summer on the Cape for the Falmouth Commodores, but finished strong, allowing three earned runs and striking out nine over his final 10.1 innings of work. Across the Cape on the reigning champion Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, right-hander Hunter Parsons has pitched to a 6.39 ERA in 12.2 innings of work.
After winning a championship alongside Morris with the Bethesda Big Train, right-hander John Murphy has signed a contract with the Wareham Gatemen of the Cape Cod League. He has not appeared for the Gatemen yet, but enjoyed a fine summer with Bethesda, pitching to a 3.37 ERA in 24 regular season innings, and earning the win in game one of the LCS. Zach Jancarski also played well for Bethesda, hitting a team high .347 in the regular season with 15 stolen bases, 23 runs scored and 20 walks in 26 games. In the postseason, he went 4-for-16 with three doubles and four runs scored.
The Baltimore Redbirds lost the Ripken League Championship to the Big Train, but outfielder Randy Bednar enjoyed a fine postseason nonetheless. An incoming freshman at Maryland, he hit .412 with three homers in five postseason contests. In the regular season, he hit .327 with a team-high six long balls and 27 RBIs. After a slow start to the summer, infielder AJ Lee came around as well, hitting .264 with six doubles, 18 steals and 30 runs scored between the regular season and playoffs.
The Terps pitchers on the Redbirds did not fare as well as their hitting counterparts, however. Right-hander Mike Vasturia ended the season with a 5.40 ERA in 18.1 innings, but did toss two scoreless frames in the playoffs. Left-hander Jon Dignazio allowed nine earned runs in 11.1 innings in the regular season (7.14 ERA), and struggled in his only playoff outing, giving up four runs (all earned) on four hits and three walks in an inning of work.
Incoming freshmen Richie Schiekofer and Tommy Gardiner both hit over .300 with the Ripken League’s Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts this summer. Schiekofer hit .306 with five doubles in 20 games for the T-Bolts, while Gardiner hit .308 with 10 runs scored in 24 contests.
In the Northwoods League, Kevin Biondic continues to impress at the plate and on the mound. The Thunder Bay Border Cats first baseman is hitting .243 with a team-high four homers, and owns a 2.13 in 12.2 innings on the mound.