Most teams approach a game against the Yankee Rebels baseball team with fear and trembling.
And for good reason. The Yankee Rebels arenearly impossible to defeat. The team is the Terminator of the 15-16age bracket in the Baltimore area.
This year, for instance, they are 42-1 against Baltimore area teams. And their overall record is 56-3.
They are so good they even take on older teams and beat them, most notably this season a 3-2 win over Johnny's 20-and-under team. That would be like the Hagerstown Suns beating the Orioles.
So when Columbia Reds manager John Lopez entered his team in the American Amateur Baseball Congress' state championship against the Yankee Rebels, he was making one gutsy move.
The Reds played the Rebels in the Baltimore Metro League's Junior Division this season and lost. Lopez thought the tournament might be different.
But Sunday night, the Rebels defeated the Reds, 4-0, in the AABC state championship game at Hannah Moore Park in Reisterstown.
The Reds also lost the first game of the double-elimination tournament Friday night to the Rebels, 6-1, even though they led after fourinnings, 1-0, behind the strong pitching of Chris Calamari.
AfterSunday night's game, Lopez didn't have any regrets about tackling the Yankee Rebels. He already was looking forward to having a strong team next year.
"We have 13 players back," he said. "This was a young, close-knit team that played relaxed and just came out and had fun."
Last year, the Reds won the Dizzy Dean state tourney and earned a trip to the nationals in Jasper, Ala., where they lost two straightgames.
That represented a significant accomplishment for a second-year team. But Lopez is the kind of man who likes to shoot for the top.
"We came here (AABC) because the competition was tougher and because I wanted to beat the Rebels," Lopez said.
The Reds struggled early this season but eventually jelled and put together a 24-32 record.
Saturday, in the tournament's second game, they beat Edgewood, 6-5, staging a five-run late-inning rally. The next day, they rallied twice to beat Eastern Storm of Essex in a semifinal game, 6-4, thus earning another shot at the Rebels.
In that game, Eastern Stormtook a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but the Reds ralliedfor two runs in the bottom of the first, as Brandon Easterling was hit by a pitch, Joe Brewer singled, and Matt Noon doubled them both home.
The Storm tied it in the top of the second, 2-2, then went up,4-2, in the fourth before Spike Altman came in to pitch 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
The Reds went ahead, 5-4, in the bottom of the fourth, scoring on singles by Derick Schneider and Calamari, two wild pitches, an error and Altman's sacrifice fly. Calamari drove in the final run on a fielder's choice after Ryan Schneider, Derick's brother, reached on a walk and Derick Schneider reached on an error.
But the Reds' luck would not last the day. Yankee Rebel pitcher AndyDeltlinger, a tall left-hander with a lively fastball and snapping curve, survived a shaky start to shut out the Reds on a two-hitter.
Deltlinger, 12-0 this season, gave up a two-out single to Derick Schneider and then a walk to Calamari in the first inning. But Easterling fanned to end the rally. He then walked Noon and hit Brad Montcastle in the second inning, but the Reds again failed to get a clutch hit.
He walked leadoff batter Ryan Schneider in the third inning, buta double play cleared the bases. The Reds got just two more base runners the rest of the game: Derick Schneider doubled off the left-field fence in the sixth inning, and Josh Tripp walked with two outs in the seventh.
Deltlinger struck out eight batters, all in the final four innings.
The Yankee Rebels scored two runs in the first on two walks, an error and a single off starting pitcher Montcastle. They added single runs in the third and fifth innings.
The Reds excelled defensively in the championship game, turning three excellent double plays and barely missing a triple play in the fifth inning.
RyanMcGonigal relieved Montcastle in the fourth inning after a leadoff triple by Doug Hamilton and pitched out of the inning without allowinga run.
The Rebels had only four base hits, but eight walks provedhazardous to the Reds' health. Three runners aboard by walks scored.
As state champs, the Yankee Rebels advanced to the AABC regional tournament in Springfield, Mass. They have won 10 regionals and finished second in the national tournament four times.