Adam Donahue made a great first impression on his Bowie baseball teammates, throwing a no-hitter in the season opener. His most recent outing was pretty good, too -- a one-hitter as Bowie defeated Gwynn Park, 2-0, in Prince George's County's first baseball championship game.
And, if top-seeded Bowie advances to the Maryland 4A South Region title game tomorrow -- the Bulldogs have not lost to a county opponent this season -- Donahue is expected to start that game, giving him another chance to make a lasting impression.
Bowie Coach Bill Seibert had an idea what he was getting when Donahue transferred from Riverdale Baptist to Bowie in February -- "I figured coming from Riverdale Baptist he had to have some above average ability, because [Coach Terry Terrill] doesn't usually have too many donkeys over there" -- but it would have been difficult to expect any more from Donahue.
Donahue finished the regular season 6-0 as a pitcher, with a 1.64 earned run average and 66 strikeouts in 47 innings; he threw six complete games in seven starts and allowed only 19 hits. Offensively, Donahue is batting .471 with 9 doubles, 33 RBI and 35 runs scored. He plans to play for Northwest-Shoals (Ala.) Community College next year.
"I call Adam 'manna,' " Seibert said. "Any time you send me a left-handed pitcher, that's like sending manna from heaven."
As a team, Bowie finished the regular season 20-1 and averaged 13.7 runs per game. On Monday, with a 13-2 victory over Oxon Hill in a Maryland 4A South Region quarterfinal, the Bulldogs set the state record for runs in a season (301); they held the previous record of 290 a year ago.
It has been an enjoyable season for Bowie and its standout pitcher, despite the circumstances that led to him joining the Bulldogs. Donahue attended DeMatha for his first two years of high school then transferred to Riverdale Baptist and repeated his sophomore year. He was one of the top players for the Crusaders, who annually field one of the area's premier teams and play a rigorous schedule.
But in February, Donahue, two teammates and two other Riverdale students were caught violating school rules and faced serious punishments. Donahue withdrew from school and enrolled at Bowie.
Terrill called Seibert to tell him about his new player, and Seibert subsequently talked with Donahue. "The way I treat my players, if you haven't done anything to me, I'm not going to come down hard on you," Seibert said.
Given another chance, Donahue has taken advantage. He began the season with a five-inning no-hitter in a 17-1 victory over Parkdale and had key offensive plays in the team's two closest victories in the Prince George's 4A league, hitting a game-ending home run to beat Eleanor Roosevelt on April 28 and hitting a double and scoring the game-winning run against Laurel on May 6.
"He made a mistake, learned by his mistake, picked himself up and is moving in the right direction," said George Donahue, Adam's father.
Being one of the team's leaders is a long way from where Donahue began his school career. He played on the freshman team at DeMatha but was told he was not needed the following year, prompting his transfer to Riverdale. At the time, Donahue weighed about 225 pounds. He still could throw but was far from being in good shape -- so he joined the school's cross-country team.
"I think [Terrill] might have had something to do with that," George Donahue said.
Adam Donahue said he competed only in two meets, but that daily practice sessions had a quick impact on his fitness -- even if they were not necessarily enjoyable.
"Not everybody enjoys running," he said. "But you get used to it."
After cross-country season, offseason baseball workouts began Nov. 1. Pretty soon, the 6-foot Donahue was down to 185 pounds. The next fall, still trying to stay in shape, Donahue joined the soccer team and started as its defensive stopper for two seasons. He was looking forward to his final season of baseball when he ran into trouble.
"It was hard. By no means at all did I want to leave, but that's the way things worked out," Donahue said. "After playing for them for two years and working all offseason and knowing we're going to have a really good team and a couple weeks before the season starts to have to leave, it was definitely a hard thing to go through. But everything works out for the best. We're having a really good season, and I don't think I would have gotten as much notice if I had stayed at Riverdale."
Donahue said he still keeps in touch with his old teammates and occasionally watches the Crusaders play. He also enjoys his new situation, with the Bulldogs seeking their first regional title since 1995.
"I knew he was going to be very successful at Bowie and in that league," Terrill said. "I think he has the confidence and ability to do that, and it has shown. . . . We were definitely counting on him for big things. That's the way it goes. We miss him, and I think he misses us. You've got to move on and make the best of it, and that's what I think he is trying to do."