Gerstell completes a finals sweep of Boys’ Latin to win its first MIAA B baseball title
by Joe DiBlasi
Gerstell Academy came out of the elimination bracket of the MIAA B Conference baseball playoffs to defeat three-time defending conference champion Boys’ Latin on consecutive nights at Harford Community College, to capture the first baseball title in school history for the Falcons.
On Monday night Reese Early pitched a complete game in a 6-3 win, and on Tuesday, Early came on in relief in the top of the 7th after the Lakers placed the potential tying runs on base with two away. Early got a big out to secure a 6-4 win and the championship.
When Gerstell coach Cap Poklemba went to the mound in the seventh, he asked the Navy bound righty if he wanted the ball. The answer was obvious.
“I was a little nervous because I know they can really hit,” said Early. “Once I got on the mound I got in my zone. and pumped strikes.”
Early explained how he got Eric Gazin on strikes to end the game.
“I started him with a slider because I thought he would be looking for a fastball on the first pitch, and I got him swinging on a fastball outside to end it.”
Poklemba, the son of former McDonogh and Glenelg Country coach Al Poklemba, said “I didn’t want the ball in anyone else’s hands at that point.”
Al won an MIAA title at McDonogh 24 years ago, and on Tuesday night, Cap made it like father, like son.
“These kids never quit,” added Poklemba. “We start four freshman, and I told them early in the season that they would have to step up and grow up at some point. and they did.
“Jerry Florence, a freshman, came up with the big hit today. Yesterday it was freshman Tyler Stuck who had two key triples to pace our offense.”
Sam Grace gave up the Florence hit, which proved to be the game winner.
Laker coach Bill Greenwell said that he has never coached a player with as much heart and determination as Grace.
Grace had just fanned two Falcon batters with the bases loaded and no one out in the fifth frame when Elias Rimel singled and Florence tripled on first-pitch fastballs.
Greenwell said, “That hit (by Florence) was the difference in the game.
“Gerstell is a great team. They are well-coached; they have a good group of freshmen in their starting lineup, and Coach Cap does a great job.”
Florence explained his approach at the plate prior to his big hit.
“I was just trying to hit the ball to the right side, like coach told me,” said Florence. “I was looking for a fastball, because I think he thought he could get it by me, but I hit it.”
The Lakers had just taken a 3-1 lead in the top of the fifth, but the Falcons answered quickly.
Lefty Logan Satti, who took over for Gerstell starter Graham Vaeth in the fifth, notched the win.
“My two-seam fastball was really working for me. I worked inside and got a couple of strikeouts. I made them put the ball in play and we made the plays on defense.”
Jack Fishel had a double and a single for BL and he scored two runs, Josh Butler had two hits and two RBI’s, Grace had a double and an RBI, and Charlie Godin had two hits and an RBI.
Vaeth, a sophomore, had three hits for the Falcons, and he scored a run. Early had two hits and a run scored. He also played stellar defense, with six ground ball put outs at third.
MIAA B CONFERENCE FINALS
(at Harford Community College)
NO. 20 GERSTELL 6, NO. 19 BOYS’ LATIN 4
BL 000 030 1 — 4 11 2
GER 100 050 x — 6 8 0
Grace and Windle; Vaeth, Satti (5), Early (7) and Hagan
2B: BL-Grace, Fishel; GER-Vaeth.