Rallying from an 8-1 deficit, Maryland scores a walk-off victory in the 10th inning

by Gary Adornato

Having already lost the first two games of its three-game set with Team Pennsylvania, in the 8th Big 26 Classic, Team Maryland refused to go quietly, Saturday evening at FNB Field in Harrisburg, Pa. Maryland battled back from an early 8-1 deficit to tie the contest before eventually claiming a 9-8 walk-off victory in 10 innings.

Down 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth, Georgetown Prep’s Ryan Rodriguez delivered a game-tying RBI single. Ashton Snelsire (Stephen Decatur) led off the bottom of the 10th with single to start Maryland’s winning rally and later scored when John Carroll’s Ethan Ruiz drilled an RBI single down the right-field line.

After falling behind early, Maryland got a huge relief effort from Leonardtown’s Sean Foster to keep Pennsylvania scoreless the rest of the way. Foster earned Game MVP honors in the victory and Georgetown Prep’s Antonio Perrotta earned Team Maryland’s MVP honors for the series.

According to Loyola Blakefield coach Mike Kelly, who was the skipper for Team Maryland, Pennsylvania has a huge edge in numbers in terms of players who are trying out for the teams.

“We need to get more participants to try out for the team,” said Kelly. “We had maybe 40 kids try out for the team. Pennsylvania had 90 at one tryout. We battled but were over matched in some ways and we had a couple guys not play because of injuries and that hurt.”

Pennsylvania has now won three straight in this series which began in 2012, to hold a 5-3 edge over Team Maryland. The Big 26 did not take place in 2020 due to COVID-19 and was also suspended in 2017.

The game features players from each state entering their junior and senior years of high school baseball and is operated by the Hershey Harrisburg Sports & Events Authority, which acquired the game from the now defunct Big 33 Foundation, which originated both the Big 26 and the Big 33 Classic.

Here is Team Maryland’s complete 2021 Big 26 roster: