St. Albans Captures First D.C. Baseball Classic

By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 1, 2008

It was the middle of the season when Sam Simons realized that he had a lengthy hitting streak going, posting base hits in 36 consecutive games. That streak came to an end in the regular season finale, but Simons made sure the most important streak stayed intact for top-ranked St. Albans.

Simons had two hits in yesterday morning's semifinal victory in the D.C. Baseball Classic, then had two more in last night's championship game, helping the Bulldogs finish their season with yet one more victory, 6-1 over Wilson before an estimated 600 at Nationals Park.

Junior Matt Bowman was dominant, striking out 12 batters in six innings as St. Albans (32-2) closed with a 13-game winning streak.

"We knew this team was special from the beginning," said Simons, noting the roster included eight players who started last season and 12 seniors.

All-Met pitcher Danny Hultzen normally receives much of the attention for St. Albans and he sparkled once again yesterday, striking out 14 and allowing just three hits in a 4-0 victory over Maret in the semifinals. Simons singled, doubled and drove in two runs in that game, then had nearly the same line in the title game against Wilson, the only difference being that he had just one RBI. It finished a remarkable season for Simons, who batted nearly .500 and plans to play for NCAA Division III champion Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

"If he can refine his swing a little to get some more backspin, he's going to put up serious power numbers in college," St. Albans first-year coach Jason Larocque said.

Yesterday's victory capped quite a year for Simons and St. Albans. After deciding not to play football as a junior because he wanted to avoid injury risks and did not want to miss training for baseball, in the fall he earned all-conference honors and helped the Bulldogs go 9-1 and win the Interstate Athletic Conference title, the most victories for the Northwest Washington private school since 1955.

Last night, it was Simons who got the Bulldogs going after four scoreless innings. After a walk and an error, Simons followed with a soft line drive down the left field line, scoring Andy Thomas. Andy Longosz added a two-run single to make it 3-0 and J.D. Alexander walked with the bases loaded to force home a fourth run.

John Suzich drove in a run in the sixth as St. Albans took a comfortable 6-0 lead that was plenty for Bowman, typically the Bulldogs' third starter. Hultzen had pitched in the morning semifinals and Francis Brooke, with an injured knee, was limited to a brief appearance in the final inning.

Bowman had struck out 34 batters and walked just four in his eight previous pitching appearances -- and he was even more dominant last night. After giving up two hits in the first inning, he became a strikeout machine. Over the next four innings, Wilson did not hit the ball out of the infield.

Wilson finally broke through in the sixth when Luke Koczela led off with a triple to the fence in right-center -- his third hit of the game -- and scored on Jake Jordan's single to left. But Bowman ended the inning with his 12th strikeout. His previous career-high was seven.

While Wilson (20-6) has one game remaining, Tuesday's D.C. public school championship game against School Without Walls at Banneker Recreation Center, St. Albans's players were celebrating a sensational season.

"I'm not going to bed tonight," Larocque said. "I don't want tomorrow to come."

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