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Baseball Notebook

Rookie St. Albans Coach Savors Quite a Memory

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By Josh Barr and Preston Williams
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, June 13, 2008

St. Albans expected to have a strong baseball team this season, with 13 seniors on the roster and plenty of experience on the field. However, after going 32-2, winning their second consecutive Interstate Athletic Conference title and then capturing the inaugural D.C. Baseball Classic to finish the season No. 1 in The Post's rankings, the Bulldogs left their rookie coach in awe.

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"This year, for me, was the most rewarding experience," St. Albans Coach Jason Larocque said.

And that's from a guy who captained Harvard's baseball team and spent two seasons as a bullpen catcher for the Boston Red Sox.

Larocque said he noticed St. Albans's potential before the season, with a lineup that included All-Met Player of the Year Danny Hultzen, who went 13-0 as a pitcher and proved himself to be one of the nation's top players. Francis Brooke was a sensational No. 2 pitcher, and others, including third baseman Sam Simons and shortstop Matt Bowman, also had strong seasons.

After Hultzen pitched a shutout in the semifinals of the D.C. Classic, Larocque turned the ball over to Bowman for that night's championship game and he responded with a career-high 12 strikeouts in six innings as the Bulldogs defeated Wilson, 6-1.

"He made a big statement for himself to be a premier player for next year," Larocque said. "That was my plan, having Hultzen pitch in the morning and then let Matt Bowman, the next star, have his moment in the sun -- and he had his best game of the year."

Finishing No. 2 was Paul VI Catholic (27-3), which won its first 21 games and then rode its talented lineup to a Virginia Independent Schools title.

Triumphs in Maryland

The D.C. area's only public school state championships came in Maryland, where two schools won their first titles. Sherwood's run to the 4A championship was surprising, but La Plata's 3A title simply capped a terrific season.

Sherwood (17-5) had graduated most of the key players from the team that went undefeated in 2007 until a state final loss, but the Warriors found new heroes. Twins Chris and Tyler Green produced the decisive hits in the semifinal and championship game.

La Plata (21-2) started its season with 14 victories, lost a pair of one-run games, then won its last seven games, capped by Mike Boyden's 14-strikeout effort in an 8-2 victory over Patapsco in the final.

In Virginia, Colonial Forge ended Lake Braddock's 20-game winning streak with a 7-6 victory in the Virginia AAA semifinals, but the Eagles lost to defending champion James River, 10-0, in the championship game. Afterward, Coach Shawn Szakelyhidi talked about how the season should be remembered for its successes and for the Eagles becoming the first Stafford County team to advance to the state final.

Senior outfielder Shayne Paskanik said he hopes that, in time, he will feel the same way.

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