Lake Braddock baseball plays on despite slew of major injuries; Riverdale Baptist off to fast start


It’s been a painful start to the season for defending Virginia AAA champion Lake Braddock this spring. (Jonathan Newton/WASHINGTON POST)
March 27, 2013

It has been a painful offseason for defending Virginia AAA champion Lake Braddock (3-1). Most notable was the spinal cord injury that senior pitcher Nick Balenger sustained in Hawaii. But several other players are either working their way back from more traditional baseball injuries or are out because of them.

The team has not yet used a pitcher who logged an inning last season. The infirmary report:

Senior first baseman-outfielder Mitch Spille, the third-ranked Bruins’ likely cleanup hitter and a Radford recruit, was recovering from Tommy John surgery when he tore his labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. He is out for the season.

Senior pitcher Thomas Rogers (North Carolina) can play in the field and hit and might be able to pitch later in the season after recovering from a Tommy John procedure.

Senior catcher Garett Driscoll (George Mason) tore the labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. So he can pitch, but he has not been able to hit or catch. He was scheduled to make his season debut behind the plate Wednesday afternoon against Stone Bridge.

Sophomore Matt Supko, the team’s likely No. 1 pitcher, had a stress fracture in his back and has not yet played in a game. Senior third baseman Alex Lewis (Longwood) broke his leg during the offseason and is playing but is still not at full strength. Junior pitcher Joe Darcy recently began throwing after a bout with tendinitis.

Senior pitcher J.P. Anthony transferred to rival West Springfield, the team that topped Lake Braddock in the Northern Region final last year. But senior Nick McIntyre, who played at Lake Braddock as a freshman and sophomore, has transferred back from O’Connell.

So far, All-Met senior outfielder Alex Gransback (Virginia Commonwealth) and junior shortstop Jack Owens (East Carolina) have been unscathed.

“The guys joke about it now: ‘You’ve got to watch out, who’s going down next’ type of deal,” said Lake Braddock Coach Jody Rutherford, who tore his Achilles in September playing pickup basketball.

“It’s been quite a stressful offseason, and it’s starting to wind its way down, but trying to manage all these guys in their different capacities [is challenging]. I feel like we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I say that, and something will happen.”

Crusaders succeed with speed

No. 1 Riverdale Baptist (8-0) has stolen 48 bases in 53 attempts, thanks in great part to Miami-bound center fielder Matt McPhearson, a likely draft pick in June who swiped 66 bases last season.

“He’s got the green light, but certainly there are times when we definitely tell him to go if he hasn’t,” Riverdale Coach Terry Terrill said. “He’s the type of guy if he’s not gone in two or three pitches, something’s wrong. He’s got that speed that you don’t see too often.”

Riverdale senior pitcher Chase Brewis has signed with Maryland and junior Taylor Bloom also has committed to the Terrapins. Those two and senior Ryan Selmer have been the winning pitchers in seven games. Junior catcher Andrew Sharpe is headed to James Madison.

So the Crusaders have arms, which is why Terrill entered Riverdale in a 16-team tournament in Memphis next week.

“We’ve wanted to go there for a number of years, but you have to have enough pitching to get in those tournaments,” Terrill said. “I think we have a group that at least can give us a chance.”

Riverdale is scheduled to host McNamara (6-1) at 5 p.m. Thursday.

The Post Top 10

Riverdale Baptist has stolen 48 bases in eight games....Lake Braddock, the defending Virginia AAA champion, plays in the Patriot District, whose teams have claimed seven of the past eight Northern Region titles....By March 21, every WCAC team had at least one league loss....South River beat Arundel, 11-2, last week....Defending IAC champion Georgetown Prep won 18 of its last 19 games a year ago.

1. Riverdale Baptist (8-0)

2. Madison (2-1)

3. Lake Braddock (3-1)

4. South River (1-0)

5. DeMatha (5-1)

6. St. John’s (4-2)

7. Robinson (3-0)

8. Paul VI Catholic (5-2)

9. Georgetown Prep (4-1)

10. Arundel (2-1)

Bubble: Reservoir (1-0), West Springfield (1-2), Hylton (0-4)

Records through Tuesday

DISCUSS: Who should be No. 1?

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