Solid defense outweg by slow offense in playoff game at Sherwood
Blair's baseball team ended its season with a record of 10-9, losing to Sherwood High School in the first round of the playoffs, 2-1. Senior pitcher Liam Bowen gave a characteristically stellar six-inning performance, but the Blazers simply could not find holes in the Sherwood defense.
The Blazers began the season with a promising record of 7-2, including three consecutive games in which they beat their opponents by the 10-run mercy rule. However, many of Blair's runs were scored on walks and errors, rather than by quality hitting. Blair also suffered from a lack of contact, striking out 128 times as a team throughout the season.
Despite the outcome of the Sherwood game, the Blazers played well defensively. They allowed their only walk and committed their only two errors of the game in Sherwood's crucial two-run sixth inning. Bowen faced just five more batters than the minimum 18 for six innings of work. "[Sherwood] was by far the best game we played," said senior third baseman Mike Coe, who scored Blair's only run of the game in the second inning. "It just makes you wish we had been up like this earlier in the season."
With Blair down 2-1, senior first baseman Nick Cope led off the seventh inning with a triple to left field. The Blazers hoped that three outs would be enough to get him home. With the infield playing shallow, Coach John Macdonald told Cope to hold unless the ball got through to the outfield.
Neither saw the second baseman move back to his normal position, so when junior catcher Max Eckert hit the ball to the second baseman, Cope stayed at third, though he likely could have scored the tying run. "I take full blame for that," said Macdonald. "I don't think the instructions were wrong, but it was just bad luck."
In the next at bat, sophomore right fielder Thomas Foley, who drove in Coe with a single earlier in the game, hit a bullet back to the pitcher, who caught Cope in a run-down between third and home. Junior left fielder Michael Shields ended the game with a well-hit but badly placed fly to right field.
Cope recalled last season's "breakout" game in which Blair beat the heavily favored Springbrook High School team with star Russell Durfee pitching. Cope said the Springbrook game improved the confidence of last year's team, which helped to establish their record of 15-4, the record best of Macdonald's tenure.
The team retained a lot of talented players this year, including several seniors who plan to play baseball in college. But the team did not get into the same type of groove as last season. "I think we had a lot of talent," said senior center fielder Will Fassett. "I wish I could play one more year."
Ben Meiselman. Ben Meiselman is a senior in the Communication Arts Program at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland. He enjoys playing sports, especially baseball. Ben is seventeen years old, born May 16, 1985. He has played the trumpet since fourth grade when he began … More »