SILVER SPRING — The R.E.M. song “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” was the theme of Saturday’s Cal Ripken League contest between the Silver Spring-Takoma Park Thunderbolts and the visiting Rockville Express.
The Thunderbolts’ eighth annual “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” night featured tunes from the alternative rock band throughout the evening. The song was written by band member Mike Mills as a plea to his then-girlfriend not to return to Rockville.
Unfortunately for the Thunderbolts, the Express did go back to Rockville, escaping Blair Stadium with a 9-0 victory.
“We were neck and neck up until like the third or fourth inning and then made a couple mistakes that kind of cost us a couple runs,” Thunderbolts outfielder Ace Felder explained afterward. “In baseball if you don’t hit that switch soon things are contagious in baseball.”
Rockville pitcher John Stankiewicz earned the victory after going seven innings on the mound.
“He did terrific,” said Rockville Express head coach Rick Price. “Yeah, he went seven strong.”
Stankiewicz, who was named to the all-star team, struck out nine batters and yielded five hits.
“He was a solid pitcher,” said Felder. “He knew how to locate with two strikes, he didn’t leave anything around the plate.”
Rockville catcher Evan Blum, who was selected for the all-star game, described the win as a “team effort” and was also impressed with Stankiewicz’s performance on the mound.
“Seven strong innings,” said Blum, a Georgetown Prep graduate who currently plays at Holy Cross. “Fast, curve, slider, change, mix. [He was] throwing a lot of fastballs early in the game and as the game went on, second, third, fourth time through the lineup [he] started to pitch backwards, mixing off-speed more, change-ups to lefty’s, really locating well. [He] looked good out there.”
The game was tied 0-0 until the fourth inning when Livian Reinoso crossed the plate to give the Express a 1-0 advantage. Rockville later added runs in the sixth and seventh innings before the Thunderbolts unraveled in the eighth inning; Rockville added six runs on three hits and the Thunderbolts committed three errors.
Rockville improved to 13-14 with the win while Silver Spring-Takoma fell to 12-19. Despite their mediocre records, both teams are blessed with talented players who compete at the collegiate level.
“In this league if you don’t have a certain name on your jersey you kind of get looked at a certain way,” said Felder, who noted the Rockville Express was a team full of “underrated talent.”
Silver Spring-Takoma head coach Doug Remer said Felder has shown drastic improvement from last summer.
“A year can make a big difference if you’re paying attention,” said Remer, who noted that Felder’s strength, speed and baseball IQ have skyrocketed since last year. “If you’re willing to develop and he clearly came in with the desire to come out here and prove himself.”
Felder, a rising senior at Grambling State University, said he looks forward to competing in the Cal Ripken League for the remainder of the summer.
“Baseball is full of ups and downs so I just try to keep a positive mindset,” said Felder, a Dallas native. “You got to be optimistic and just making sure I’m making the right adjustments going into my fall season at Grambling.”
Meanwhile, Rockville was led at the plate by outfielder Jarel McDade and catcher Eurick Perez who each finished the game with two hits. Billy Godrick, an outfielder, and McDade compiled two RBIs apiece for the Express.
Earlier that day, the Thunderbolts defeated the Express in a continuation game so Rockville was determined to get a win in the nightcap.
“We did not play well the first game so that can go south and get worse,” said Price. “They just have a very good habit of forgetting about the last game and playing the next game and that’s what they did – 9-0.”
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