FREDERICK — Jaron Balman promised his ailing friend he would do something special in his honor. On Thursday, while playing with a heavy heart, Balman delivered.
Like many of the athletes on the Frederick baseball team, Balman was stunned and saddened this week after Carlos Flores, a 2011 Frederick graduate and a former member of the Warriors’ baseball team, suffered a serious spine injury in a car wreck on Monday. Balman has been by his friend’s side for much of the week, and he dedicated the remainder of the season to Flores.
That pledge got off to a roaring start Thursday against Skyline, as Balman blasted a pair of home runs to lead the Warriors to a 4-2 victory. The win salvaged a series split for Frederick against Skyline and also snapped the Warriors’ eight-game losing streak.
“I told (Flores) that the rest of my season is for him,” Balman said. “All the friends have been supporting him and have been at the hospital all week. I’m going to give both my home run balls to him.”
It was a crisp, spirited game between two clubs battling to stay out of the Tri-Valley League cellar, and it was Balman who stole the show with his two emotional clouts.
The junior catcher put the Warriors on the board in the third inning, getting ahold of a hanging breaking ball from Skyline pitcher Garrett Angstead and depositing it beyond the right field fence to give Frederick a 2-0 lead.
Frederick (6-9, 2-8 Tri-Valley League) still held a two-run lead when Balman struck again in the fifth, adding what proved to be a crucial insurance run with an opposite-field solo shot that gave the Warriors a 4-1 edge. Thursday’s power surge matched Balman’s previous home run total for the season.
“It was awesome for him and it was awesome for the team,” Frederick coach Ted Clapp said. “Everybody is kind of banding together to try and support the family, and (Balman) is right in the middle of that. We were a little worried because he has had a very emotional time. He had a tough time all week long and we didn’t know how he was going to respond.
“He came out swinging it and he was fired up. He’s the kind of kid that has the work ethic and has everything in place already. When it comes together, it comes together like that. He’s an incredible kid.”
Balman’s three-RBI performance was enough for Frederick sophomore pitcher Michael Broz, who cruised through the early innings before slamming the door on a late Skyline rally to post the complete game win.
Broz, who finished with nine strikeouts, allowed only one hit with one walk through the first four innings before being forced to buckle down during the later frames. A walk, single, and a wild pitch led to Skyline’s first run in the fifth, and the Falcons plated another run in the top of the seventh after a walk, a Broz balk, and an RBI single by Andrew Stoops.
Skyline (3-12, 1-9) managed to get runners at first and third with two outs and the go-ahead run at the plate, but Broz induced a popup out of Skyline’s Adam Reigle to secure the win.
“I haven’t thrown all week and I was well-rested, so it was easy to throw seven innings,” Broz said. “We knew Skyline had one of the lowest batting averages in the league, along with us, so I just came out and threw hard. We came out ready to play and hopefully we can finish the season strong.”
Follow Pat Rooney on Twitter: @prooney07
Frederick 4, Skyline 2
At Frederick H.S.
Skyline (3-11, 1-9) 000 010 1 — 2 5 0
Frederick (6-9, 2-8) 002 110 x — 4 7 0
W — Broz (3-4). L — Angstead (0-4)
Skyline (ab-r-h-rbi) — Angstead 3-0-0-0, Moore 4-0-2-0, Reigle 4-0-0-0, Searls 3-0-1-0, Baessler 3-0-0-0, Miller 2-0-0-0, Soriano 1-1-0-0, Hoog 0-1-0-0, Forsyth 3-0-1-0, Stoops 3-0-1-1. Totals 26-2-5-1. SB — Moore.
Frederick (ab-r-h-rbi) — Zuniga 4-0-0-0, Dill 2-1-0-0, Balman 3-2-2-3, Briggs 3-0-1-0, Broz 3-1-1-0, McCullough 2-0-1-0, Harrison 3-0-2-0, Baker 3-0-0-0, Worely 2-0-0-0. Totals 25-4-7-3. HR — Balman 2 (two on in 3rd and none on in 5th). SB — Broz, Harrison.
Skyline (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Angstead 4.2-7-4-4-3-3; Miller 1.1-0-0-0-0-0.
Frederick (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Broz 7-5-2-2-4-9.