WESTMINSTER -- All the returns are in: The Westminster Storms are this year's best in the Carroll County Men's Unlimited Baseball League.
The regular-season champ Storms added the league's postseason trophy to their collection Sunday afternoon by topping Carroll County Pools 7-2 at Landon Burns Park.
Before that final, the two teams completed Thursday night's game, suspended by darkness, which had seen the Storms ahead, also by 7-2, after five innings.
The Storms, who needed that win to escape the postseason tourney losers' bracket, held off the Pools the last two innings Sunday to win, 7-3, and force the deciding game.
That final never seemed in doubt after the winners' six-run second inning shot them ahead, 6-0, and Storms right-hander Jimmy Black settled into the groove that would carry him to a five-hitter.
Black, in fact, had far more trouble with his own control than with his opponents' bats. He walked six and tossed a wild pitch.
However, Black used his blistering fast ball and snapping curve to strike his way out of those jams.
The 1990 Westminster High grad fanned 11, six in the final three innings when he seemed to take control.
Nevertheless Black, a relief pitcher most of the year, said, "I was really tired at the end."
He said his key inning was the fifth, when he struck out three to escape a bases-loaded jam with only one unearned run scoring.
L "I fought back. That really boosted my confidence," he said.
But the real key to the contest had come and gone in the previous inning, the only time the Pools hit Black hard.
Three singles loaded the bases and, with two out, leadoff batter Todd Sadowski singled to center, scoring Alex Donnigan.
But in the game's key defensive play, center-fielder Bill Brown gunned down Mark Neuberger as he was trying to score from second base. That ended the rally.
Pools errors put two of the first three Storms batters on base in the second inning and allowed a run to score. Sean Fox then doubled home two more to make it 3-0.
The wild frame climaxed with two bad throws, allowing Storms hitter Robbie Johnson to circle the bases after he'd singled home two more runs.
Alban felt that inning was probably fatal.
"Afterward, we couldn't get it back. We just couldn't get it going after that," he said.
Even as his disconsolate players drifted out of the dugout for the final time, many seeming noncommittal over playing next year, Alban added, "We'll be back."