James Rada, Jr.
From the size of the crowd that lined the streets of Thurmont to see the Thurmont Little League team pass by, you might have thought the team won the Little League World Series, rather than finishing as runner up at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament in Bristol, Connecticut. It didn’t matter. These boys were hometown heroes and Thurmont loved them.
“It was awesome to see the whole town come out,” recalled Donovan Baker, who played right field for the team. “Even though we lost, we still felt like town heroes.”
The team finished its best season ever, going 11-2 and taking their winning ways further post season than any other Thurmont Little League team has since 2005, when the team finished third in the regionals. The team went 3-2 in the regional tournament, but lost 8-3 in the championship to the team from Holbrook, New Jersey.
“These boys are competitors,” said Coach Ed Lowry. “We lost our very first game out of the gate in the Mid-Atlantic tournament. Every game from that point forward was an elimination game. Win or go home. These boys managed to win three games in a row, and send three different states home from the tournament.” Lowry further expressed that the boys were naturally competitive and praised their ability to handle the high-pressure situation they found themselves in. “They have faced adversity and overcame. The ability to handle pressure situations (national media and audience) and let their competitive nature take over will be characteristics they can build on as they develop into fine young men.”
The boys did more than perform under pressure; they enjoyed it. Second baseman Braden Manning said, “We work so well together.”
The team also felt that they could have won against New Jersey, but they had an off- day that cost them.
“I knew we’d win district this year,” said Centerfielder Peyton Castellow. “I thought we’d win states, and beating Berlin a second time was great. Our bats were just not working like normal at the regionals.”
Lowry said that a favorite moment for fans was when the coaches brought in Peyton to pitch during the championship game.
“It was a beautiful thing to watch as he pitched a phenomenal game,” Lowry said. “We all know Peyton’s abilities and competitive nature locally. We were not surprised. He is an outstanding talent. At that point in the game, it became about much more than just baseball.” Lowry said that it showed that size didn’t matter. It was about being the best player that you can be, and Peyton did just that.
One memory that the boys took away from the game was that they were playing for a national audience on ESPN. “It was cool being on ESPN,” said Braden. They will also always remember how fervently Thurmont supported them. “The town supported us a lot, and it was pretty cool.”
As part of that support, the team received two proclamations, one from the town and the other from Frederick County. The Town of Thurmont declared August 21-27 as Thurmont Little League Week, and the county declared August 17 as Thurmont Little League Day.
Because of the boys’ ages, they will be moving onto different leagues as they continue to play baseball, but they are certain to be an asset to whatever team they play for.
“They are a special group of boys, and I couldn’t be more proud to be one of their coaches,” expressed Lowry.
To help the Thurmont Little League defray their travel costs in their post-season play, the entire team signed twelve baseballs and two bats. They will be auctioned off, with all of the proceeds going to the Thurmont Little League. If you are interested in bidding for a piece of Thurmont history, e-mail Mayor John Kinnaird at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include either “Ball” or “Bat” in the subject line. There is minimum bid of $25 per ball and $50 per bat. The auction ends at 6:00 p.m. on September 11, 2017. The winners will be announced at the town meeting on September 12. You can also call Kinnaird at 301-606-9458 with any questions.