Varsity baseball perseveres through delays to win in district semi finals

McLean and Yorktown battle for two nights, with the Highlanders ultimately reigning victorious

Senior Mark Dimatulac poses with his friends after catching RJ Carmenates’ homerun ball over the right field gate.

Tension was high in the Highlander fan section on May 16 as the varsity baseball team faced off against the Yorktown Patriots, the number one seed, in the district semi finals.

The previous week, the team secured their spot in regionals in a win against Herndon, but they still had high hopes of continuing the Highlander baseball legacy as last year’s varsity team took the district championship.

The night was off to a rough start when sophomore Alex Gonzalez, the Highlanders’ starting pitcher, tripped in an attempt to cover first and tag out the first Patriot batter of the night. The injury had him out the rest of the game but sophomore Christian Drey swooped in and closed out the inning holding onto a 0-0 start.

The Highlanders began to pick up speed in the top of the 2nd inning with a single to left field by sophomore Ethan Ball, followed by a double from senior Ethan Bomersheim, and with a man on 2nd and 3rd, Brennan Core had an RBI erupting the stands and giving the Highlanders the first run of the evening.

The hot streak did not end there. With only one out in the inning senior RJ Carmenates hit a bomb over the right field fence, which was caught by a group of his fellow seniors cheering in the outfield, taking the Highlanders to a 4-0 lead and sending a wave of Highlander rumble through the Patriot’s stadium.

After a few nerve racking base hits in the bottom of the second, Drey closed out the inning with a strikeout. The Patriots did not touch the 4-0 lead.

The third inning was mostly uneventful as the Highlanders went through their at bats with no runs. Drey did let up one run in the bottom of the third, but Mclean’s players and fans alike didn’t lose their spirit or energy, rallying on to the fourth inning.

After a series of walks and hits, the Highlanders had the bases loaded with no outs in the top of the fourth. Sophomore Gabe Pegues struck out, followed by a strikeout from senior Chris Morabito, and then a pop fly hit to right field by junior Yuto Shimo, ending the top of the fourth with no scoring for McLean.

Drey let up one run in the bottom of the fourth, but it did not shake the Highlanders as they moved into the fifth inning.

Both teams kept each other under control during the fifth, keeping the score at 4-2 and the fans on the edge of their seats

The sixth inning started out with a double by Pegues, followed by the Patriots walking Morabito and Ball, once again loading the bases for the Highlanders. Junior Ryan Soong hit a line drive to left field, letting a runner head to home and giving the Highlanders a 5-2 lead.

Shimo came in to pitch in the start of the bottom of the sixth, letting up a walk and a triple that allowed the Patriots to score another run. That was all they gained, though, and the inning ended 5-3, with the Highlanders holding onto the lead.

Senior Jakob Luu came in strong to the seventh inning, which would be the final inning of the game if the Highlanders could hold on to their lead, with a triple followed by a RBI double by Pegues to bring the Highlander lead to 6-3.

However, come the end of the inning the tension felt at that first pitch of the game was back as Highlander fans and players knew that the Patriots would put up a fight to the very end.

That is exactly what happened and it was successful. With Shimo and later Morabito pitching in the bottom of the seventh the Patriots came back to tie, sending the game into extra innings.

The game entered the top of the eighth inning late into the night, and it was a quick three outs for the Highlanders.

Anxious chatter filled the stadium as McLean took the field, which suddenly turned into screams as the lights unexpectedly shut off. Quickly, the high anxiety turned to lighthearted laughter as fans turned on their flashlights to light the field and the two teams came together talking and laying out on the field.

15 minutes later, the lights turned back on and Morabito closed out the eighth inning with a quick three strikeouts. The remainder of the game was then postponed to May 17.

Both nerves and energy were revamped that Wednesday night as fans filled the outfield and the bleachers to cheer their team into the district finals.

Despite a few solid base hits, the Highlanders faced a quick three outs, giving Yorktown fans a reason to cheer. However, senior Quinn Evans came in to pitch unphased, kicking off and ending the bottom of the third with strikeouts.

Highlander fans roared as Yorktown’s starting pitcher of the night walked McLean’s first thee batters in the bottom of the tenth inning. Jakob Luu then came in with an RBI and kept the bases loaded, giving the Highlanders the lead 7-6. Pegues then came in with another RBI, and the Highlanders ended the top of the tenth with an 8-6 lead.

Evans kept up his streak, letting up no runs in the bottom of the tenth while also pitching two strikeouts to take the long awaited win.

The Highlander stands erupted and players stormed the field ready to take the chance at another district championship this Friday, May 19 at Marshall. .