June 20, 2012
Gaithersburg Post 295 13- Damascus Post 171 9
Gaithersburg Post 295 needed offense and needed it soon. Down two runs in fourth inning to Damascus Post 171, faulty glovemanship had a stranglehold on Gaithersburg—295 had committed seven errors in four innings—and through 90-degree weather at Seneca Valley High School, Gaithersburg’s bats were the last things to heat up.
But unlikely leadoff man sparked a fourth-inning rally that gave the “Big Red Machine” a lead it would not relinquish in a 13-9 defeat of Damascus.
Bundled in the “tools of ignorance” behind home plate, Nick Pak looks more like a plump schoolboy in a winter coat or a bright red clown nose rather than an offensive spark-plug. Yet it was Pak who stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom for the fourth for 295 and laced Eric Magus’s second pitch to left-center field. Tony Cianci’s double to right scored Pak to cut the 171 lead in half, then two batters later Kyle Hamer belted a fastball over the head of centerfielder Brady Adam, plating Cianci and landing Hamer on second. Matt Cononie’s two-out single brought home Hamer and Chris Heckhaus legged a line-drive misjudged by Adam to third to clear the bases. Two pitches later Heckhaus scored when groundball snuck through firstbasemen Drew Knapp’s legs. After the dust cleared in the inning, Gaithersburg took a 5-2 lead.
“I actually do like leading off a lot,” Pak said. “You often get a good pitch to hit. You get to work deep in the count and if the pitcher makes a mistake you get to jump all over it.”
171 added two more runs of their own in the top half of the fifth, but Pak led-off once again for 295 in the bottom-half of the frame and started another rally.
This time Pak doubled to right and scored three batters later on a fielder’s choice. Joey Moeltner’s double plated two more and Matt Cononie cleared the bases with a three-run homerun to left.
“He’s a strong hitter. He’s in our four-hole. We know that he can put the ball in play hard somewhere and we know he makes things happen,” Gaithersburg head coach Steve Cononie said of Pak.
“I can’t be any more happy with our bats,” Cononie continued. “They’re in the zone. They’re tough to beat when they’re in that zone.”