A chance to pitch more often prompted 20-year-old Jason Mills to switch baseball teams from the Utica-Rome Indians to Corrigan's last month.
Given that chance, Mills rewarded his new team with some superlative performances and helped it win the All-American Amateur Baseball Association national championship in Johnstown, Pa. Corrigan's beat Columbus, Ohio, Sunday in the AAABA championship game, 5-4.
After joining Corrigan's (formerly Johnny's), which now has won the AAABA title 19 times, Mills went 4-0 in four starts and three relief appearances during the regular season. He allowed three earned runs.
In the regional and national playoffs he was 2-0 and allowed one earned run. His Corrigan's totals were six wins, no losses, 45 innings pitched and an 0.80 ERA.
Mills (East Carolina State, Atholton) pitched eight innings and won the regional championship game for Corrigan's. He allowed one earned run and beat Detroit.
Detroit scored four times in the first inning of that game, as Corrigan's usually reliable defense collapsed. The team came back to win, 14-4.
Then, in a crucial second game of the nationals against defending champion New Orleans, Mills picked up a second win, this one in relief, as Corrigan's rallied from a 10-4 deficit in the last two innings.
"I pitched 1 2/3 innings and we scored three runs in the eighth and nine in the ninth to take a 16-10 win," Mills said.
After four straight national tournament wins Corrigan's lost to Columbus, 13-12, in 11 innings. Mills relieved with the game tied, a man on second and no outs in the 11th. He struck out the first batter. The second batter reached on an error. And the third batter hit a game-winning sacrifice fly.
"That was the only disappointing thing about the tournament for me, is that I wasn't able to close off the Columbus game," Mills said. "That loss turned out to be a wake-up call because we played much better ball after that."
Corrigan's beat Philadelphia, 7-3, before downing Columbus in the final, 5-4. The deciding run scored on a solo home run by second baseman Joe Kail. Kail, from Johns Hopkins, hit six homers in seven games, batted .588 and was selected Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
Another county player, Joe Goldberg, also played for Corrigan's this season as a reserve infielder but didn't see action in the nationals. He was Kail's back-up.
"It was a lot of fun and I'm glad I came back to Baltimore to play," Mills said. "The first couple of nights we had crowds of 8,000 watching, there were lots of scouts and Walter [Youse] is a great coach."
Corrigan's, a 20-and-under team, finished the season with a 57-14 record.
Rutgers University must really like Hamisi Amani-Dove (Wilde Lake).
It pictured the sophomore striker on the front of its soccer schedule with a caption: All-America candidate.
Amani-Dove scored two goals in the recent Olympic Festival, including one that belonged in a highlight film.
A one-time marathon to celebrate Columbia's 26th birthday is scheduled for Sept. 19. It is limited to the first 1,000 entries.
The $26 fee benefits the Columbia Foundation, a group that supports human services, art, culture and education around the county.
Call Feet First (410) 992-5800 or the Howard County Striders Hotline (410) 964-1998.