South takes Cal Ripken League All-Star game

MPI CalRipAllStar 0034Baltimore Red Birds' Drew Blakely (8) hits a high flyer. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER    BETHESDA—North and South division players took part in the 2017 Cal Ripken League AllStar Game Monday night at Shirley Povich Field. While there wasn’t much scoring due to dominant pitching and baserunners getting caught stealing, the South would still end up with the 3-0 shutout.

The first score of the game came in the bottom of the third inning when, with the bases loaded, Alexandria Aces infielder Max Schuemann hit a sac fly to right field and scored Bethesda Big Train infielder Vinny Esposito to give the South a 1-0 lead.

The game remained 1-0 until the bottom of the ninth when the South added two more runs. Big Train outfielder Kirk Sidwell jacked one to right center field for a home run, and then, with the bases loaded, Bethesda designated hitter/pitcher Kevin Milam hit an RBI single to drive in Loudoun Riverdogs infielder Pete Nielsen.


Rockville Rays beat Bethesda Barracudas at local swim meet

BETHESDA – The Rockville Rays swim club beat the Bethesda Barracudas, 471.5-320.5, in the Montgomery County Swim League Upper Division meet at the Bethesda Pool Saturday. 

The Rays Men beat the Barracudas, 265-13, while the Rays Women won, 206.5-189.5, over the Barracudas.

The Rays dominated both men’s and women’s events, including intriguing swimmers from both teams and exciting matchups throughout the meet. 

Of highlight, Rays swimmer Jason Tang won all five events on his day. Tang, who is committed to swim for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall, led the Rays men’s squad.  

Of note was the matchup between Rays swimmer Chris Ma and Barracudas swimmer Kyle Lawson. Ma won three of the four matches. However, Lawson showed his grittiness by picking up a win and giving Ma a run for his money at each event.

In the Women’s division, a key matchup through the meet involved fellow teammates, Barracuda swimmers Hannah Kannan and Amanda Liu. They competed against each other in four events. Kannan and Liu are teammates at Montgomery Blair High School. On the day, Liu won one event over Kannan. Kannan took the other three events. Overall, Kannan had a strong day for a women’s squad that put up in a fight against the Rays. 

Kris Lawson, Kyle’s 12-year-old younger brother, excelled in the pool, taking four events. Lawson set a Bethesda Pool record in the Boys 11-12 50 SC Meter Freestyle with a time of 27.32.   

Others who competed well were two Rays youngsters, 8-year-old Anabel Sha and 10-year-old Adriano Arioti.

@MarcLandemarc1  @Markpoetker 


Giants sneak past Thunderbolts in fourth match-up of the season

GAITHERSBURG  -- After losing the first three games against Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts (10-16), the Gaithersburg Giants (15-13) beat their divisional rivals 5-4 Saturday night.

The game at Criswell Automotive Field remained close throughout.

Silver Spring-Takoma outfielder Brett Leftridge hit a leadoff home run in the first inning to put the Thunderbolts on top, 1-0. Then outfielder Garrett Stonehouse hit an RBI double to score first baseman Jimmy Cain, taking the score to 2-0.

In the bottom of the second, however, the Giants would answer when second baseman Jordan Westburg doubled to drive in a run scored by third baseman Christian Torres, followed by catcher Trey Martinez grounding out on a 6-3  put out, as first baseman Steven Williams headed home to tie the game at 2-2.

Neither team would break the tie until the bottom of the sixth. With Gaithersburg’s designated hitter Christian Kuzemka at the plate, Steven Williams would score the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by Thunderbolts pitcher Yuhe-Lin Lee to give his team a commanding 3-2 lead. Then outfielder Daniel Cabrera would hit a two-RBI double to left field to drive in Westburg and outfielder Trace Bucey and extend the Giants’ lead to 5-2.

“We needed this win,” Cabrera said. “I think we’ve lost to this team every time this year, and we needed to beat them and do everything we can to get in first place in our division.”

 In the top of the seventh, outfielder Richie Schiekofer doubled to left field to drive in catcher Benito Santiago and cut the deficit to 5-3. Then, third baseman Jimmy Cain hit an RBI single to send Schiekofer home, nearly catching the team up with the Giants.

On the next at-bat, with runners on first and second, Stonehouse had a chance to tie the game with a base hit, but he ended up hitting a fly out to right field, and the Thunderbolts failed to score the last two innings.

“When you play a good team, you gotta play ball,” T-Bolts manager Doug Remer said. “And still, we had too many strikeouts tonight. We put the ball in play and made things happen, but the pop-ups and the strikeouts, we’re not gonna win games if we do that.”

For the Giants, Cabrera was solid at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two RBI and a batting average of .360.

With the win, Gaithersburg improves to 16-13 on the season, while Silver-Spring Takoma falls to 10-17.




Local pros, amateurs and celebs mix it up at the Quicken Loans Open

POTOMAC — Celebrities across many professions descended upon the newly redesigned golf course at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm on Wednesday to take part in the 2017 Quicken Loans National Pro-Am Golf Tournament.

 Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and Washington Capitals defensemen John Carlson and Justin Williams were among those to join the professionals. The marquee group of the day, however, was made up of professional and the ninthranked golfer in the world Rickie Fowler, Cleveland Cavaliers starting shooting guard J.R. Smith, ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter and Bill Emerson, the vice-chairman of Rock Holdings, the parent company to Quicken Loans.

Of the group, Smith was easily the most impressive amateur. Smith’s drives left dropped jaws among the crowd following the group, as his shots sailed through the air like bullets. On the 16th hole, Smith’s drive was tracked at 296 yards. But Smith’s most impressive shot of the day came on the par three ninth hole. Smith used an iron for his tee shot, and unleashed a near perfect shot, coming within inches of a holein-one.


Stanley wins Quicken Loans National

MPI QLN 3048 EditedNobody was happier or more surprised than golfer Kyle Stanley after winning the Quicken Loans National. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  POTOMAC – Kyle Stanley was overcome with emotion following Sunday’s playoff win over Charles Howell III in the Quicken Loans National at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm.

“I wish I didn’t cry so much, to be honest,” said Stanley who rose six spots on the final day to capture his second PGA Tour victory.

The win helped Stanley, a native of Washington State, earn his biggest paycheck to date and marked the former Clemson University All-American’s first victory on the PGA Tour since the 2012 Phoenix Open.


Big Train proves to be Giant Killers 15-3

BETHESDA – On Saturday, the Bethesda Big Train used its strong batting to beat the Gaithersburg Giants at Shirley Povich Field, 15-3.

At first, it was the Giants who looked as if they would be the team to dominate the game. On the first pitch at the top of the first inning, outfielder Daniel Cabrera hit a leadoff home run to left field to put Gaithersburg up, 1-0.

Then it was the Big Train’s turn. With the bases loaded, pitcher Truman Thomas walked outfielder James Outman, which allowed outfielder Zach Jancarski, the walk-off hero from the previous night, to score. Then third baseman Luke Heyer hit a sacrifice fly to center field to drive in a run by shortstop Fox Semones and give the Big Train a commanding 2-1 lead.


Rosemary Hills Lacrosse Club is more than a program and all about the kids

SILVER SPRING – The gym door at the Gwendolyn Coffield Community Center burst open, and a gaggle of children came swarming through.

One little boy, clad in a red Tshirt and khaki shorts, skipped toward a large duffel bag and shouted, “Yes! Yes! My favorite game!”

Tiny lacrosse sticks were pulled out of several duffel bags. Goggles to protect the eyes were strapped around every head. Colorful, decorated nametags hung on long strings around each child’s neck.

This is the Rosemary Hills Lacrosse Club.


Big Train outlast Thunderbolts, 4-3

BETHESDA — Bethesda Big Train outfielder Zach Jancarski came through in the bottom of the 10th inning with a walk-off RBI single to lift the Big Train (16-6) to a 4-3 victory against the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts (8-15) at Shirley Povich Field Friday.

At the top of the first inning, Thunderbolts outfielder Brodie Leftridge hit a leadoff single and stole second and third bases. Then third baseman Carl Colbert hit a sac fly to right field to score Leftridge, giving the Thunderbolts a 1-0 lead.

But Bethesda responded with some scoring of their own. At the bottom of the first inning, infielder Kevin Milam doubled to drive in Jacob Koos, who had hit a leadoff triple. Then, outfielder James Outman drove Milam home with an RBI single, earning the Big Train a 2-1 lead.


Long-awaited renovations in Potomac greeted with enthusiasm at tourney

POTOMAC — The Quicken Loans National golf tournament was played for the first time at the newly-christened TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. With the renovations now finally complete, the golf course was set for a new beginning.

In 2006, the same tournament, then known as the Booz Allen Classic, had been held almost exclusively at the location then called TPC Avenel. However, that would be the last year that the venue hosted a PGA Tour event for over a decade.

Maligned for its poor design as well as drainage issues, PGA golfers no longer wanted to play an event at TPC Avenel. Numerous complaints from many pro golfers, most notably Tiger Woods, led to redesigning and renovating the entire course.

The vast majority of golfers had never seen the course before, and many did not know what to expect coming into the tournament given the history. But after four rounds of golf, the reviews from the golfers of the TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm golf course were a total reversal from 11 years earlier.

“Yeah, it’s really good,” said Kyle Stanley, the winner of the 2017 Quicken Loans National, “One of the most difficult courses we’ve played this year.”

“I think that this is a good venue for the PGA Tour,” said Billy Hurley III, who won the tournament in 2016.

“I love the challenge, I think it’s a very difficult golf course,” said Bryson DeChambeau, “It’s a great golf course, great conditions, and hopefully one that we will come back to in the future.”

“I love it, I think it’s a great golf course,” said golfer Patrick Reed, who is ranked 17th in the world, “It’s hard.”

“It’s hard, but very fair,” said Lucas Glover, “...You hit a good shot, you get rewarded. You hit a bad shot, you get penalized. But that’s how a tough course should be.”

The positive feedback did not stop with just these golfers. All across the board, players love the challenge that TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm presented. Some thought that the high, thick rough and firm greens were similar to what one would see a major championship like the U.S. Open.

“You could 100 percent host a U.S. Open here starting tomorrow,” said 12th-ranked golfer Justin Thomas after the Pro-Am on June 28, “I mean, you really could.”

“You definitely could,” Reed said when asked if a major championship like the U.S. Open could be played at this course, “and it would be a hard U.S. Open if they got the rough even thicker.”

While many golfers also seemed to like the possibility of rotating the event between Congressional Country Club and TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, it was clear that the renovations have changed the way this course is viewed in the eyes of PGA Tour golfers, and have set the stage for years to come with future PGA Tour events.

TPC Avenel first opened in 1986. It was the home of the PGA Tour’s annual event, the Kemper Open, which existed from 1987 until 2002. When the tournament’s sponsor changed in 2003 from Kemper Insurance to the investment banking firm Friedman Billings Ramsey, the tournament was renamed the FBR Capital Open. Then the technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton became the sponsor of the event in 2004, and it was renamed the Booz Allen Classic. In 2007, AT&T and Tiger Woods took over as sponsors, and the event was renamed the AT&T National.

It became known as the Quicken Loans National after Quicken Loans replaced AT&T as tournament sponsor in 2013.




You Reach and I Teach comes to Churchill H.S.

Two Montgomery County residents are joining forces this month to teach youngsters the fundamentals of basketball.
Germantown’s Joel Barkers and Mamadi Diane of Potomac are teaming up for the “You Reach I Teach” boys and girls basketball camp at Churchill High School.
“I think it’s a great way to stay connected to the area,” said Diane, a 2005 DeMatha graduate who played collegiately at the University of Virginia before embarking on a professional career overseas.
Barkers, who played professional basketball overseas for five years, said he and his staff will be “actually trying to teach the kids the right way how to play basketball.”