Blazers rally from nine down but lose in extra innings to Churchill
BLAZER FIELD, May 13 -
The Blair varsity baseball team was eliminated during the first round of playoffs Tuesday night, falling 15-12 to the Churchill Bulldogs after mounting an inspiring rally to send the game into extra innings. Blair finished the season 10-11, and to a standing ovation from their fans.
"I'm real proud of what these boys did here tonight, and all season," Blair head coach John MacDonald said. "At the end of the day, Churchill just got some bigger hits than we did."
Trailing 11-2, the Blazers finally caught up to the Churchill pitcher in the bottom of the fifth. Slowly but steadily, Blair chipped away at the deficit. First, junior captain and second baseman David Fegley sent a pitch to right field to bring in senior shortstop Ruben Aguirre. After a steal home by junior outfielder Neil Corran and a walked-in run, Blair was behind 11-5.
Then, with the bases loaded and two outs, freshman outfielder Nevin Brown hit a clutch double over second base to score two more runs and bring the score to a manageable 11-7.
The Bulldogs added to their lead with an additional run in the sixth, but Blair was only halfway through with their comeback. After Churchill walked in a run, junior third baseman Brady Ettinger - with the bases still loaded - smacked an incredible double to the deep left-center wall, clearing the bases and cutting the deficit to just one run, 12-11. Senior Carlos Mesa moved Ettinger to third in time for Brown to cap the comeback, coming through once again with two outs to tie the game, 12-12.
Churchill, after blowing what had seemed an insurmountable lead, was blanked in a quick seventh inning thanks to Mesa, who was on the mound for Blair. But with a chance to win, the Blazers were denied as well, mustering two strikeouts and a grounder.
Things started well for the Blazers in extra innings, as Aguirre made a spectacular grab then twirled around in order to complete the play at first. But with two runners on, a sharp single to left field scored both Bulldogs to give Churchill the valuable 14-12 lead. A final Churchill run was walked in, but Mesa was able to limit the damage, ending the inning on a strikeout.
Unfortunately, Blair was unable to summon another rally, and the game ended with the final 15-12. Despite the early exit, the Blazers remained positive, especially considering the unbelievable comeback.
"It's tough for it to be over now, but at least we went down fighting," Mesa said.
Blair started slow on offense, a problem that has plagued the team all season. Junior pitcher Josh Gordon started for the Blazers, and grudged the Bulldogs just one run after two innings. But Churchill found their swing in the third, and with the help of two walks, loaded the bases.
After Gordon walked in a run, MacDonald sent in freshman pitcher Peirce Marston to pitch out of the jam. Marston struck out the first batter he had ever faced in the playoffs, but a consequent double and single extended the Bulldogs' lead to 7-0.
Marston helped his own cause in the third, singling down the third base line in the same fashion senior catcher Dylan Baird did right before him. Aguirre hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Baird. Corran followed suit with an RBI single to put Blair on the board, 7-2.
Churchill added one in the fourth, then three more runs in the fifth off of a base clearing double for an 11-2 advantage, just in time for Blair's 10-1 run to push the game to extra innings.
"We may not have put it away, but that was still something special," MacDonald finished.
Greg Kohn. Greg Kohn is a native Marylander. He's lived in one house his whole life, played soccer since before he could talk, and loves to chant "09" when it's really quiet. He hates being called Gregory, and he wishes he were more organized. He was a … More »