BOONSBORO — All Boonsboro senior Brian Cibula had to do when he stepped to the plate with one out in the seventh inning against South Hagerstown on Friday was put the baseball in play enough to push across the winning run from third base.
Cibula went one step above and beyond keeping the ball fair, crushing a grand slam that gave the Warriors a 9-5 victory over the Rebels in an MVAL Antietam contest.
Cibula turned on a fastball from Airin Martin, sending it beyond the fence in left field for his first homer of the year. It capped his six-RBI night, including his two-run single in the first inning when Boonsboro (4-7, 3-4) took a 4-1 lead.
“I’m going up to the plate knowing I just have to get the ball in play for one run,” said Cibula. “I was looking for a fastball, I got one and got on it.”
The blast put an end to a game that appeared to be in the hands of the Rebels (4-7, 2-4), thanks to how Martin pitched once he got out of the first inning.
Had it not been for a fortuitous bounce for the Warriors, South might have won.
Brad Enfield walked leading off the seventh, and Ryan Ruiz then bunted back to Martin, but the baseball took a different route once it hit the grass-dirt edge, rolling past Martin.
The Rebels got an out on Zach Poffenberger’s bunt, but Scott Bennett delivered a double to score Enfield for a 5-5 tie. After South intentionally walked Riley Stephenson to load the bases, Cibula came through with his blast.
“Same Boonsboro, different year,” said Boonsboro coach Ben Leonard. “We can’t hit at times, can’t field, but wait until the last inning to get it going.”
After Tim Kitchen homered leading off the game for South, Boonsboro gained a 4-1 lead on two hits, two walks, a hit batter and an error.
Martin then settled down — retiring the last two batters of the first inning to start a stretch where he got 16 of 18 hitters out — and allowed his teammates to climb back into the game.
“He gave them strong innings, threw a heck of a game,” said Leonard.
South scored three runs in the fourth to forge a 4-4 tie off Cibula, who was hurt by the Warriors’ defensive lapses.
With runners at first and second and one out, Sean Przywieczerski lifted a fly to medium center, with Jordan Dickens breaking off second base. The catch was made and the ball thrown into second in plenty of time, but it was mishandled, allowing the inning to continue.
Keith Johnson went on to deliver an RBI single and Brandon Hess smacked a two-run triple to right center.
South then took the lead in the fifth against reliever Nathan Hardy, using an infield single, two walks and two errors.
“We just can’t make routine plays,” said Leonard. “In a tight game, you have to make baseball plays.”
South outhit Boonsboro 9-5, but that did not ease the pain for the Rebels.
“(Martin) has been a slow starter, but he gave us the innings and the opportunity to win,” said Rebels coach Zach Swisher. “We made mistakes, (Boonsboro) made mistakes.”
Kitchen had three hits for the Rebels and Johnson had a pair of knocks.
Stephenson, returning to active duty along with Hardy, pitched two innings of relief to get the win.
The Warriors continue to be bit by injuries. Despite Hardy and Stephenson returning, Boonsboro lost Justin Lewis for an indefinite period, as well as Dustin Gregory.
Boonsboro 9, South Hagerstown 5
South 100 310 0 — 5 9 1
Boonsboro 400 000 5 — 9 5 4
Martin and K. Johnson. Cibula, Hardy (5), Stephenson (6) and Cowden. WP — Stephenson (2-0). LP — Martin (0-3). HR — SH: Kitchen (1st, none on); B: Cibula (7th, three on).