Vermillion lifts South Maryland in thriller

July 25, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI |

MAUGANSVILLE — Nick Vermillion found the universal way for a baseball player to settle his nerves.

Hit a game-winning, three-run home run.

Vermillion settled his nerves by blasting a two-out, game-winning shot to right field to lift South Maryland to a come-from-behind 15-14 victory over South Caroline on Monday to stay alive in the Maryland 11-12 State Tournament at Maugansville Little League’s Jay W. Stouffer Field.

“I was actually nervous,” Vermillion said. “I was having trouble standing up. My legs are still shaking.”

He and South Maryland had an entire night to calm down before having to play Conococheague in today’s losers’ bracket game at 4 p.m. South Caroline was eliminated in heartbreaking fashion with an 0-2 record.

With one swing, Vermillion stole what could have been a hero’s celebration for South Caroline’s Jonathan Buchanan, who hit a three-run home run with two outs and two strikes in the top of the sixth to give his team a 14-12 lead and then took the mound to shut down South Maryland.

Vermillion rewrote history and put South Maryland on the upper side of the see-saw game.

Buchanan launched his second homer of the game well over the center-field fence to give South Caroline what looked like a comfortable 14-12 lead. The only problem was it didn’t bat last.

Timmy O’Farrell and Jake Pecilunas started the rally by drawing a pair of one-out walks. Vermillion cashed in with two outs to end the game.

“I was due,” said Vermillion, who finished with three hits and five RBIs. “I needed a hit. I got a fastball that was up and I got under it. I knew it was gone when I hit it.”

In a game that featured four lead changes and pitching struggles, South Maryland got what it wanted to pull the game out.

“He’s the kid we wanted up in that situation,” said South Maryland manager Marty Vermillion, Nick’s father. “I don’t think it bothers him. He wants to be in there. He’s clutch.”

South Maryland jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two innings against starting pitcher Jake Zebron with two runs without a hit in the first inning and an RBI double by Pecilunas and Nick Vermillion’s two-run single in the second.

South Caroline broke through by sending 12 hitters to the plate to score eight runs in the third. Jared Bennett and Buchanan started the onslaught with solo homers. Greg Bee added an RBI double while Shawne Bowens, Zebron and Buchanan added run-scoring singles.

South Maryland, which finished with 10 hits, took a 12-9 lead with a six-run fourth inning, started with Nick Vermillion’s one-out triple and highlighted by Pauley Smith’s pinch-hit two-run triple. Then it turned to Sam Barnes to come on in relief to hold down South Caroline.

“The key to the game was Sam Barnes,” Marty Vermillion said. “He pitched awesome. He missed one spot and (Buchanan) hit it. That was an exciting game.”

Devin Sparks hit a two-run homer in the fifth to get South Caroline close enough to set up the drama for the two clutch three-run homers.

Buchanan had three hits, including the two homers, and five RBIs for South Caroline, while Sparks added three hits and two RBIs.

“I have never been a game like this before,” Marty Vermillion said. “I’m proud of the way the kids came back after last night. We haven’t been hitting the ball. I told them that if we just went out and hit the ball, we would be fine.”

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