Baseball: Flint Hill defeats St. James to capture Mid-Atlantic Conference title

May 14

When the No. 9 Flint Hill baseball team clinched the outright Mid-Atlantic Conference championship on Wednesday with an 11-1 win over Saint James in six innings, there was no dogpile on the mound in Oakton. There were no weeping parents or players. There was no delirious celebration.

Instead, the Huskies had a brief meeting, then lined up along the foul line in left field. They ran sprints to center field and back. It was business as usual, because they still have work to do.

“We had a couple goals at the beginning of the season, and that was to win a conference championship, go 14-0 in our conference and win a state championship,” senior Reid Frazier said. “We got two of our goals down today, and now we’ve got one more to go.”

Flint Hill is in the midst of a uniquely challenging stretch. Unlike most area baseball teams, its conference and state tournaments occur in the same week. Wednesday’s game was the team’s third in three nights and sixth in nine nights.

“It’s hard,” shortstop Chris Farrell said, “but this is why we train all season. We want to be in this situation. And when the ump says ‘play ball,’ we’re ready to go.”

If the Huskies were weary, they certainly didn’t show it in winning their seventh MAC championship. Every starter reached base. Seven reached at least twice, and five drove in at least one run. On the mound, three pitchers — Frazier, Farrell and sophomore Khalil Lee — combined to throw a three-hitter.

“We’re pretty balanced. I’m not sure that’s always good, but we’re pretty balanced,” Coach Tom Verbanic said. “This was a typical game for us. Good pitching, I thought we played good defense all over the field, and our hitting was okay. Not great, but okay.”

Frazier, a Penn State commit, struck out five batters in three innings and also scored twice. Farrell singled through the left side of the infield with the bases loaded in the third inning to bring home two runs. And Christian Tailor went 2 for 4 with a triple and the RBI single that ended the game in the sixth.

The Saints (17-9), a private school from Washington County, didn’t help their cause by committing five errors.

One night earlier, the Huskies (21-7) had crushed St. Christopher’s, 10-0, in a Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association quarterfinal game in Richmond. Virginia commit Tommy Doyle struck out 14 batters in what Verbanic said was, “arguably our best game of the year.”

On Friday, Flint Hill will take another two-hour bus ride south of Richmond to Colonial Heights, Va., for a semifinal game against St. Anne’s-Belfield. The state championship game is Saturday, also at Shepherd Stadium.

“I think as hard as we’ve worked in practice and pushed ourselves, I think that makes a big difference when you get into stuff like this,” Verbanic said. “But I’m not going to lie — I’m glad we have a day off tomorrow.”

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