By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 20, 2010; D08
The Washington area's leading home run hitter stepped into the batter's box with two outs and the bases loaded with the game's outcome far from decided. And while Good Counsel had its ace, Jake Taylor, on the mound and a three-run lead, the initial decision in the dugout was to pitch around DeMatha slugger Kyle Riffe.
But after Taylor fell behind in the count with a curveball that missed, the plan changed.
"My pitching coach [Kelly Stup] said we're not going to pitch to him and I said, 'Yes, we are,' " Good Counsel Coach John McGowan said. "This is the matchup at the end of the year that every single person in the stands wants to see, including me."
After Riffe took a swing-for-the-fences cut that missed, Taylor threw another curveball and Riffe grounded out to shortstop. The Falcons kept their momentum, continued taking advantage of nearly every opportunity, and rolled to a 14-3 victory in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship game Wednesday night before 1,000 at the University of Maryland's Shipley Field.
"That first pitch he whiffed that hard, I nearly pooped my pants," Taylor said, noting that Riffe's powerful swing prompted center fielder George Smith to cross himself, seemingly asking for divine intervention.
Said catcher T.J. Brockway: "That might be the hardest swing I've ever seen."
DeMatha Coach Sean O'Connor, though, said it was just a normal swing for Riffe, who entered batting .410 with 11 home runs and had walked in his first at-bat.
"That was the defining moment," O'Connor said. "If that ball gets put into the stratosphere, it's a different ballgame. . . . That was the script being written right there."
The Stags led, 3-1, after two innings before Good Counsel (22-5) scored five runs in the bottom of the third for a 6-3 lead, aided by a key error.
DeMatha (20-8), which upset top-ranked St. John's in the tournament semifinals, had a chance to respond in its next at-bat. Taylor (7-1) had entered in the third inning and got out of a two-on, two-out jam when a runner was caught stealing. In the fourth, he walked the bases loaded.
"Darn it," he said he thought to himself. "Now, I've got to face Riffe."
But Taylor, who allowed two hits and struck out eight in five scoreless innings, got the job done and Good Counsel broke things open with six runs on just two hits, including A.J. Bowman's two-run single. Taylor had one of his two intentional walks in the inning as Good Counsel drew six of its 12 walks in the inning.
Back in time: It was Good Counsel's first WCAC title since 2006, when the Falcons beat Paul VI Catholic, also at Maryland's Shipley Field.
Up next: Both teams will play in next week's Maryland Private Schools Tournament, with DeMatha playing Spalding and Good Counsel playing Riverdale Baptist in Tuesday's semifinals at Prince George's Stadium.