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Avalon advances to state title game

avalonbaseballPOTOMAC- The Avalon Black Knights continued their run in the Maryland State B Tournament Saturday, advancing to Wednesday's championship game with a 5-3 semi-final win against Maria Goretti. Avalon compiled 11 hits over the course of the game, including two hits by both Mark Searles and Conor Sloan.

Niko Sanchez won his seventh of the year with a complete game, only giving up one earned run and keeping the game scoreless until the fifth inning. Avalon secured a berth in their fourth straight State B Championship game, and their sixth in the last seventh years. Avalon will play Goretti again in the championship as they look for their third title in the last four years and their fourth State B title.

Avalon scored first when Mark Searles batted in Aspen Feldman on a single.  

Niko Sanchez was able to retire the side in the third inning, striking out Nick Blake and Yusif Bayoh, and forcing Jake Moats to fly out. In the bottom of the third, Avalon had runners Ian Foland and Niko Sanchez on the corners with two outs, but were unable to add any insurance to their lead once again when Tommy Sanchez popped out.

Sanchez then continued his dominant pitching performance in the fourth, only using six pitches to end the Goretti half of the fourth. Avalon responded by loading the bases in six pitches with Mark Searles, Sloan, and Dan Searles. Pearce Howard then hit a sacrifice fly to score Sloan, after Mark Searles was thrown out at home on a fielder's choice. Ian Foland then struck out to end the inning with Avalon up 2-0.

Niko Sanchez only problem occurred in the fifth inning. He walked Josh Moats, then Ryan Kinter reached base on an error, sending Moats to third. Blake then scored Moats, while Kinter was forced out. On the very next pitch, Bayoh hit a single to move Blake to second. Jake Moats then moved Blake to third, and Bayoh was forced out. An Adam Blenckenstone double then scored them both, putting Goretti up for the first time, 3-2. Sanchez got out of the inning after making Kevin Proctor line out to Howard.

Avalon didn't stay down for long, however, as after Anthony Durbin and Sanchez grounded out, Avalon started a rally that would win the game. Tommy Sanchez hit a single, then stole second, and Searles walked. Sanchez then moved to third on a passed ball, and Searles followed him by stealing second. Sloan then scored Sanchez with a line drive single, and Searles scored his cousin with a fly ball. Billy Lennox then batted-in Sloan, making the game 5-3, before the inning ended with a Howard ground out. Sanchez then took care of the Goretti side in the sixth, only allowing one hit before striking out Kinter and causing a Blake fly out. Avalon had a quick bottom of the sixth themselves, and Sanchez ended the game in the top of the seventh despite giving up a double to Jake Moats.

Sanchez used a total of 95 pitches, allowing six hits, but only earning one run. He struck out four and walked just one in his seventh win of the year. Mark Searles and Conor Sloan both went 2/2, each with an RBI, and Dan Searles went 2/3 with an RBI as well. Avalon will play Goretti at home on Wednesday, with ace Niko Sanchez on the mound for the final game of the season.


By Patrick Stoll

MoCoVox Sports

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