Baseball loses to Walter Johnson in hard fought season opener
BLAZER FIELD, March 24 —
The varsity baseball team lost their first game to a strong Walter Johnson team, despite exceptional hitting and skillful pitching. After maintaining a solid lead for the first five innings, the Blazers were unable to prevent a forceful Wildcat comeback in the top of the sixth inning, which turned the game around for good.
The Blazers started out strong, scoring two runs in the bottom of the second inning after senior captain Alex Egber and junior Evan Holliday hit singles and were batted in off a double by senior Ben Hukill. Though the Wildcats tied the game back up in the top of the third, Blair regained the lead when Egber and junior Pierce Marston hit the ball to bring juniors Nevin Brown and Lucas Babinec through home plate.
The highlight of the game for the Blazers came in the bottom of the fifth inning when Egber smashed a two-run homer, batting himself and Babinec in to bring the score to 6 - 2. Senior captain Sammy Denenberg said this play really pumped up the team and encouraged them to keep working hard to maintain the lead. Coach John MacDonald recognized this hit and Egber's consistently solid batting and fielding - including a play where he threw out a stealing runner at second as catcher – as a standout performance on the field.
Unfortunately for the Blazers, the game went downhill from there as the Wildcats scored five runs in the top of the sixth and four more in the seventh. Although the Blazers scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh, they were too little too late. The game ended with a score of 9-11.
Though disappointed, MacDonald was not upset with his team's performance. "For the most part, I believe our team played well. It's just always disheartening to lose after you have the lead. Nine runs should have been enough to win the game, and I'm surprised they did as well as they did against our pitchers," he said.
MacDonald attributed much of the team's early success to Denenberg's solid pitching throughout the first five innings; he allowed only two runs. Though Denenberg seemed to tire a bit in the third inning, he came back tough in the fourth to strike out three batters consecutively.
In the end, MacDonald felt that Walter Johnson's outstanding hitting led to Blair's loss, not any particular faults in the Blazers' play. "People always try to look for something the losing team did wrong, but the truth is that they hit the ball well," he said. MacDonald believes that if anything, the result could have improved if he had made more pitching changes, especially in the second half of the game.
Despite this loss, both MacDonald and Denenberg are confident in the team's chances in the future. In upcoming games, Denenberg believes the team needs to focus on making sure their leads are safe and buckling down through the last inning. MacDonald thinks the team's improvement efforts throughout the year will pay off. "It's not like we're not prepared, because all these guys have worked hard enough in the offseason," he said. "We just need to execute well in the future."
Baseball plays its next home game against Wheaton on March 27 at 10:00 a.m.
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