Recap by Daniel: Baseball vs. Leadership

The baseball team played two games separated by two days last week, at the same time of day and on the same field. But apart from the setting, the contests against Leadership had only one thing in common: The Breakers won both, and in doing so, they clinched the regular-season BCL Central title for the second time in program history.

Pitcher Jason ’14 stole the show in Wednesday’s game, tossing his third consecutive no-hitter and shutout, and recording a school-record 16 strikeouts along the way. With the bats still struggling to shed the rust from Intersession and Spring Break, Jason shut down the Leadership lineup to give Bay time to push across the runs it would need to win the game. Jason hit the first Griffins batter of the game and walked the fourth, but he worked around the jam with a pair of whiffs and did not allow another base runner the rest of the way.

“It was a dominating performance outside of a shaky first inning,” head coach Sean Engmann said. “That’s what we expect him to do against a team like that. He has grown more mentally strong; there were no lapses in concentration after the first inning.”

Co-captain Chevalo ’13 led off the bottom of the opening frame with an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error, putting the Breakers on track to take an early lead. But Chevalo was subsequently caught stealing third, and Bay would not earn another base runner until the fifth inning.

Fellow co-captain Isaias ’13 kicked off the Breakers’ first productive rally with a fly ball to right-center field, which found a hole in Leadership’s outfield and resulted in a leadoff double. Sam ’14 delivered a good situational at-bat, advancing Isaias to third base with a grounder to second. And then, Nick ’16 smacked a single into center field to bring Isaias home with the game’s first run, the winning tally in an eventual 3-0 Bay victory.

The other two runs came around in the bottom of the sixth, in a rally catalyzed by infield singles from Chevalo and Jake ’14. Isaias brought Chevalo home with a sacrifice fly, and Jake raced home on a wild pitch during the ensuing at-bat, giving Jason more than enough cushion to close out the Griffins in the top of the seventh. Jason, who has not allowed a hit in his last 21 innings on the mound, struck out the side for the third time on the afternoon to end the game in a brisk 94 minutes.

Friday’s game, on the other hand, was anything but brisk. The Breakers broke out their bats to the tune of 30 runs and 24 hits, the latter a school record, in a resounding victory that wasn’t clean, but also was never in doubt.

“A lot of [the difference between the games] had to do with their pitching, obviously,” Engmann said. “The first game’s pitcher threw strikes consistently and could change speeds a bit. Their pitchers in the second game had trouble getting the ball into the strike zone with anything on it. That said, we were more focused at the plate and obviously more confident.”

It showed immediately.

The Breakers, whose passive approach enabled Leadership’s Wednesday starter to face the minimum through four innings, sent 18 batters to the plate in the first inning and handed freshman Patrick Mayrisch, who was making his first high-school start, a 12-run lead. Bay would bat around again in the fourth inning, when 16 hitters stepped into the box, and despite a plethora of defensive miscues by the Breakers, the Griffins were unable to overcome their early hole.

Two Bay hitters, Jason and Nick, reached base in all six of their plate appearances in the contest, and Jason drilled his second home run of the season—a long fly to center field—in the third inning. The junior drove in a team-high five runs, while Nick and Jake —who finished a homer shy of the cycle—notched four RBI apiece.

Reed ’16, who entered the game in a 1-for-19 slump despite hitting the ball hard on numerous occasions, got off the schneid with a pair of singles after coming off the bench in the third inning. The Breakers are looking forward to continued contributions from the outfielder, who benefited from Thursday’s batting-practice session at Crocker-Amazon Field.

“Reed is getting back to fundamentals and focusing on simple things,” Engmann said. “I put more of Reed’s struggles on inconsistent coaching than on Reed. If we keep things simple for him, he will continue to make significant improvements. Reed has a very high upside as a 9th-grader.”

Meanwhile, the four Breakers who toed the rubber all left the mound with positive takeaways from their outings. Patrick was charged with all six of Leadership’s runs in 1 1/3 innings of work, but threw strikes more consistently and was hindered by a porous defense. Sam quickly stifled a prolonged Griffins rally and retired all five batters he faced to earn the win. Isaias, who worked the fourth inning, fanned two Leadership batters with his breaking stuff, showing impressive control of his curveball and slider. And Nick, who recorded the last three outs, bounced back from hitting the first batter of the inning to notch a pair of strikeouts in the second appearance of his high-school career.

“Patrick’s getting close—every game there is some improvement,” Engmann said. “We are trying to get him in situations where he can be successful to help him build confidence and get over that hump. Confident pitchers do not hit three batters in an inning. That said, it’s impossible to build confidence when the defense isn’t taking pride in what it does and is booting routine plays. I was more angry at the defense not helping Patrick out yesterday than about Patrick’s performance.”

“I am hoping that this is a building block for Isaias,” Engmann added, “and I hope that the entire pitching staff could match Nick’s enthusiasm when he is on the mound.”

Rarely does a team come away from a 24-run victory with any reservations, but the Breakers will set out in their practices this week to restore the defensive focus that waned in Friday’s win, allowing Leadership six more runs than it scored on Wednesday, when Bay did not commit an error.

“We need to think of ourselves as a great defensive team and take pride in it,” Engmann said. “That starts at practice. Every ground ball during infield and batting practice should be taken as if it’s in a game. […] Laziness is the culprit. In the outfield, it comes down to expecting the ball on every pitch and reacting accordingly. We have made considerable improvements fundamentally out there, but that and five bucks gets you a cup of coffee if the players are not expecting a ball on every pitch. The reactions of the outfield [on Friday] were identical to what happens if I hit them a fungo in practice and they’re not expecting it.”

The wackiness of Friday’s contest—which prompted assistant coach Eli McCargar to quip in the dugout, “Every time you go to a baseball game, you see something new; in this game, I think I’ve seen three or four things that I’ve never seen before”—likely contributed to the team’s lack of focus in the field, but the Breakers are expected to treat every inning of every game with the same importance and intensity.

After practicing on Monday, the Breakers (10-3, 6-0 in league play) will wrap up their regular-season BCL Central slate with two games against Waldorf. Tuesday’s opener will take place at 3:30 p.m. at Big Rec Field, and Thursday’s finale is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at West Sunset Baseball Field. Since the Breakers have already clinched the number-one seed in the BCL Central playoffs, they will take on the fourth-place team in the semifinals, which are scheduled for Wednesday, May 15 at Big Rec.

— Daniel Rathman is the quality control assistant for the Bay baseball team. He was a member of The Bay School’s first graduating class and graduated from Tufts University last May. In addition to his coaching duties, Daniel is a writer and editor for Baseball Prospectus, and a soon-to-be graduate student at New York University.

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