CLEAR SPRING — In the immortal words of LL Cool J: “Don’t call it a comeback.”
No. Despite the Game 7 feel of Saturday’s Maryland District 1 11-12 championship game between National and Clear Spring, this one seemed expected for the Blue and Gold.
Josh Colliflower burned his way through National’s lineup and Clear Spring’s bats gave him plenty of support en route to a four inning, 13-0 shutout of National to clinch Clear Spring’s first 11-12 title.
Clear Spring will represent District 1 in the state tournament, which begins July 21 in Brunswick, Md.
“Pitching will always prevail,” said Clear Spring manager Pete Lazich. “When you get a performance like Colliflower had today, whew. That is something to be reckoned with.”
Colliflower channeled his inner Justin Verlander on Saturday, firing a complete-game one-hitter with 11 strikeouts, only allowing one batter over the minimum 12 outs. His lone blemish was a one-out double by Jordan Row in the top of the third inning. He threw just 44 pitches.
“His fastball was hard, he was locating his off-speed stuff ... his game was complete,” said Lazich. “But honestly, I didn’t expect anything less. He came out ready to pitch in this championship game.”
“I came out ready to pitch and I knew I had to pitch well, so I just stuck with it,” Colliflower said. “We came in, we hit, we pitched, we fielded and that’s what we need to do to keep going in the state tournament. It feels great to be the first 11-12 All-Stars with a flag.”
Clear Spring scored six runs in the bottom of the second inning, highlighted by a two-run hit by Joe Micco that plated Colliflower and Connor Michael. Later in the inning, an error allowed Tyler Hill and Micco to score.
“We’re a pretty solid lineup 1 to 9, but I think our key hit was Micco’s single to break it open in the second,” Lazich said. “That single opened the floodgates for us offensively.”
Clear Spring followed with a seven-run third, highlighted by three homers — solo shots by Michael and Colliflower and a two-run jack by A.J. Yost. Jaret Lazich also had a two-run double in the frame.
“We were patient with the ball, we got some runners and we hit some homers,” said Pete Lazich. “I’m proud of these guys. When the chips were down, we came back. I’m proud of them.”
“Josh pitched a phenomenal game. He was hitting his spots and mixing up speeds and he had us pressing,” said National manager Ed Penn. “I’m proud of my guys, they had a great tournament. Congratulations to Clear Spring, I’m sure they’ll represent District 1 well in the tournament.”