McLean varsity baseball loses 6-5 in district championship

Marshall Statesmen storm back from early deficit, topple Highlanders in extra innings

Senior R.J. Carmenates walks away dejectedly as Marshall celebrates in the background.

McLean baseball, fresh off of an upset over the first-overall seed Yorktown Patriots, entered Marshall High School with the goal of raising their second consecutive district banner. Although the Statesmen had defeated McLean by six and five runs in their two regular season matchups, McLean did not back down.

The Highlanders jumped to an early lead, stringing together multiple baserunners off of Marshall’s star pitcher, Noah Grossman. With two runners on base, junior first-team all-district honoree Yuta Shimo stepped to the plate and unleashed a cannon onto the unsuspecting baseball, sending a towering drive over the left field wall and giving McLean an early 3-0 lead.

“That really set the tone for the whole game,” junior catcher J.W. Harrington said. “It made a statement that we were here to play and showed that we can compete with these guys.”

Not to be denied, Marshall quickly erased two-thirds of the deficit in the bottom of the first inning, and McLean’s once well-insured lead now stood at only one run. McLean tacked on two runs over the next two innings, with senior catcher R.J. Carmenates knocking in junior second baseman Ryan Soong to expand the lead back to three runs.

It was evident why the two teams on the field were the only teams from the district left standing. The baseball on display was of a high caliber, and at any given moment it was impossible to tell which team truly wanted it more.

Eventually, the Statesmen struck back. A three-run bottom of the fourth inning—which was punctuated by a game-tying, two-run, bases-loaded single from Marshall—brought the game back to square one, and McLean was left vying for some way out of their hitting slump.

The way out did not come. As hours ticked away and batters frustratedly made their way back to the dugout, over and over again, neither team could put the game away. It remained tied well past the typical duration of the game, and big defensive plays like a McLean double play to escape a jam in the sixth inning became the defining events of the match.

Someone eventually had to score, and unfortunately for those hoping to watch McLean win the district again, it was Marshall who broke through the stalemate. In the bottom of the ninth inning, with a runner on second and the scoreboard reading two balls, two strikes and two outs, the Marshall batter pulled a hit to left-field and forced a play at the plate, which just happened to be not in time. Marshall stormed home plate, swarming their recently-scored friend, and McLean’s players were left with the shellshock and reflection which accompanies a painful loss.

“It was a really good competition by really good teams,” assistant coach Stephen Sudik said. “It’s some of the little things [that did it] for us. It’s not just a play at the plate, it’s a whole slew of things before that where anything could have been different. In the end, it’s a team loss.”

Although the loss was a tough one to deal with, McLean had no choice but to set their eyes forward. Because of their success in the regular season and postseason, McLean sealed their envelope to some regional playoff games, where they are trying to be sure to not let the loss to Marshall get them down.

“Tough game, tough loss,” Harrington said. “It’s going to light a fire underneath us and we’re going to use it to push forward.”