After its marathon loss in the MIAA C Conference baseball tournament finals Sunday afternoon, Key School baseball players did a group chat that evening.
The message: Keep it simple.
“We were making things too hard on ourselves,” said Key senior catcher Colin McNabb.
The Obezags went back to basics Monday and hoisted another championship plaque. Key routed Concordia Prep, 13-2, in the deciding game of the double elimination tournament.
McNabb and Lachlan Armstrong each drove in three runs for the Obezags (20-4 overall), and Chris Williams pitched a one-hitter. Jonathan Couser had a 2-run double for Concordia (15-7).
After a less than inspiring start, Key scored the final 13 runs, invoking the 10-run mercy rule after five innings. The Annapolis school is the first team to win the C crown in back-to-back years since St. John’s Catholic claimed four in a row from 2014 to 2017.
The Obezags had a chance for a sweep through the inaugural double elimination event Sunday afternoon, but lost, 11-4, in a 12-inning match which lasted four hours. Key was an out away from victory in the seventh before a couple of errors provided Concordia with the tying run.
“Yesterday was rough but we knew we didn’t play our baseball,” said Williams. “When we came out here today, we were loose and said we were going to play our game and not the level of our opponent.”
With Key’s top two pitchers used on Sunday, coach Gary Gallant was prepared to piece-meal through several arms Monday. Gallant gave the ball to Williams after Armstong allowed the first two Saints to reach in the first.
Gallant didn’t return to the mound as Williams, a junior lefthander, allowed two hits and walked one.
“Chris Williams has been a good pitcher for us all year, but he’s not our no. 1 or 2,” said Gallant. “For him to step up, it meant the world to the team.”
“I had my team behind me…when they gave me the ‘rock,’ I knew they trusted me,” said Williams, who struck out four. “I trusted we were going to get our bats activated.”
Down 2-0 after one, Key reversed momentum with six runs in the top of the second. McNabb had a two-run double and Josh Kamins, Angus Lunt Woodward, Armond Ortiz and Armstrong each added an RBI.
The Obezags combined RBIs from Jack Gallant and MacNabb with two Concordia errors to put four more runs across in the third for a 10-2 advantage. On a hit-and-run play, Kamins scored from first on Lunt Woodward’s single into deep left center in the fourth.
Armstrong capped the onslaught, sending a towering fly ball about 340 feet over the left centerfield fence for a two-run homer.
Armstrong, who called his homer “a swamp monkey,” said Key was relaxed Monday, unlike the day before.
Baseball is a fun game…we were serious, we were locked in, but we were having fun,” said Armstrong. “Even though every single thing didn’t go our way, everybody kept at it.”
Armstrong got the start on the mound, but a walk and hit batter quickly ended it. Williams got a fly out before Couser’s two-run double gave the Saints the lead.
After a walk, Williams retired the next seven batters.
“He’s not in the rotation, but he came through in a tough position,” said senior Armand Ortiz, who threw 94 pitches Sunday. “I knew he had it in them. We got a pool of five pitches to get through five innings, but Chris was able to do it himself.”
Concordia coach Peter Couser was confident with his pitching situation entering Monday’s winner-take-all match. But after starter Nick Dooling walked the leadoff batter in the second, Concordia slowly came apart, committing five errors between second and third innings.
“We were set up well for pitching today, we made some mistakes,” said Couser. “We’ve talked all year about handling adversity and didn’t respond the way we’ve done in the past.”
Both coaches were pleased to see the C Conference have a double elimination tournament, like A and B leagues.
“I think the entire C Conference really deserves the opportunity to survive another day,” said Gallant.
In the end, Key was the last team standing.
“Last year, we were hungry for the championship, we had to take it for ourselves,” said Ortiz, one of six seniors. “This year, we were just as hungry…you can’t get complacent. You can’t take anything for granted.”
MIAA C CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP
at Joe Cannon Stadium
KEY SCHOOL 13, CONCORDIA PREP 2 (5 innings)
Key 064 12 - 13 15 0
Concordia 200 00 - 2 2 5
Armstrong, Williams (1) and MacNabb; Dooling Mentzell (4) and J. Couser
2B: Key - MacNabb, Kamins; Concordia - J. Couser
HR: Key - Armstrong