CAMBRIDGE — It took three hours, an extra inning, a rain squall, and nearly 300 pitches before it ended, but the wait was worth it for the home team.
The Dorchester Post 91 American Legion baseball team rallied from a two-run hole in the bottom of the eighth Thursday evening, June 20, at J. Edward Walter Jr. Park, scoring three in the bottom of the inning for a 4-3 victory over Worcester Post 122.
Ryan Cheesman’s single over the heads of Worcester’s drawn-in outfield scored Dylan Smith with the decisive run.
Dorchester, now 7-0, 3-0 South with one suspended game yet to be concluded, is now the uncontested leader in the Eastern Shore District’s South Division. Worcester fell to 4-1, 2-1.
“This was a big one, and to be honest, I think we kind of needed this kind of game,” Dorchester head coach Frank Whirley said. “We’ve been averaging 14 runs a game so far, and I figured sometime soon we’d have a game where we had to fight for runs.
“You want a game like this,” Whirley added. “You don’t learn anything from blowing someone out. When you play a few close games, you learn how you handle adversity.”
Dorchester took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Ethan Peterman’s single scored Nathan Harper.
Worcester answered with a run in the top of the fourth. Dawson Delaney hit a leadoff triple to center and scored when Alex Gaddis blooped a single to right field.
Worcester hurler Hayden Snelsire and his Dorchester counterpart, starter Khalik Beasley, battled through five innings, including rain which began in the fourth and lasted over an hour, before Beasley neared the rule-mandated 105-pitch limit. Reliever Clint Meekins came on in the sixth and Worcester loaded the bases, but Meekins escaped with an inning-ending strikeout to keep the game tied. Meekins followed that up with a 1-2-3 top of the seventh.
Smith took the hill in the eighth for Post 91, and in a matter of moments, found himself in trouble.
Hayden Snelsire worked a leadoff walk and Noah Ager struck out. Ashten Snelsire, Hayden’s younger brother, and Chris Baumann each walked, loading the bases. Cole Gursky singled to right, scoring the elder Hayden Snelsire and Ager to make it 3-1.
“I was just hoping we could respond in the bottom of the inning,” said Smith, who hit third in the home the eighth. “And we managed to.”
“Tyler did a good job of pitching to get us out of that jam in the eighth,” Whirley said of the next reliever, Tyler Merrill. “It’s hard to come into a situation like that. He doesn’t throw 90 miles an hour, but he throws strikes.”
Merrill struck out the two hitters he faced, to strand the remaining Worcester men on the bases.
In the bottom of the eighth, Gursky, who came on in the seventh, walked Beasley to start things. Beasley swiped second. Shamar Young walked, and a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position.
Smith was walked intentionally. Noah Presley singled into right field, easily scoring Beasley before Young raced home from second to make it 3-3. Smith eventually made it to third on the throw home.
Courtesy runner Tommy Crain, on for Presley at first, stole second base as Jay Duey batted. Duey was walked intentionally, bringing up Cheesman, who had subbed into the lineup to play first when Smith took the hill.
“I was just hoping to make contact, and drive it somewhere,” Cheesman said. “And I got one I could hit.”
Worcester pulled in its infield and outfield. But Cheesman’s hit, deep enough to be a sacrifice fly were the outfield playing at regular depth, did the trick anyway, Smith trotting home as the Dorchester bench erupted in celebration.
“We’ve got some talent on this team,” Whirley said, “and they know they can play from behind now. I hope we can keep building on this in the future.”
Merrill received the win in relief. Dorchester’s next game is at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Parkside High against Wicomico Post 64.