All articles are written by YJDP Student Sports Writers and edited by mentors from The Washington Post prior to publishing.
In a game where emotion at times threatened to overshadow the play on the field, cooler heads prevailed and the Maret Frogs dispatched the Sidwell Friends Quakers 6-4. With the win, the team advanced to the semifinal round of the MAC tournament for the third consecutive year.
The two rival teams met in the opening round of the MAC tournament, just days after they met in their final game of the regular season. The Frogs eked out with a 2-1 victory that completed a regular season sweep of their rivals behind a stellar pitching effort from Senior Sammy Appleby, who gave up just three hits. Maret left on Saturday with yet another close victory to earn a spot in the next round of the MAC tournament.
Despite their regular season success against the Sidwell Friends school, Maret opened the game with uncharacteristically sluggish and sloppy play that allowed Sidwell to jump to an early advantage. Shankar Mani, who pitched six solid innings against a potent Sidwell lineup, gave up two runs in the first inning after walking several batters. Early miscues and timely hits allowed Sidwell to open up an early lead of 2 to 0 and control the momentum. The Maret team, normally a dynamic and animated group, appeared listless and apathetic during the early innings.
The Frogs, searching for a way to swing the momentum in their favor, used a variety of crafty defensive and offensive plays to spark a rally and to take the lead 6 to 4 during the crucial fifth inning. After a leadoff single to start the fifth inning for Sidwell, Maret brilliantly executed a trick play to secure an out. With Maret’s freshman first baseman charging down the first base line in preparation for a bunt, the second baseman snuck behind the unaware baserunner and received a perfect throw from the pitcher to pickoff the runner. After allowing another baserunner, Mani deftly managed to pick off another runner before striking out a Sidwell batter to end the inning. In the bottom of the inning, Maret continued its trickery to gain the edge and take a lead that they would not relinquish. After a near homerun Mani helped drive in a run to tie the game at 4-4, Maret was left with runners on first and third with two outs. Then Travis Thein, Maret’s sophomore right fielder, took off from first base with the ball still in the pitcher’s hand. He was immediately caught in a rundown. While the Sidwell team focused on ending the inning by tagging out Thein, Maret’s runner on third base stole home. Thein managed to somehow evade Sidwell’s tag as he dove back to first base, and Maret emerged from the chaos with a one run lead. A few pitches later, they extended the lead to two on a single by senior Kane Hassan.
While the game between Maret and Sidwell was a thrilling back and forth contest, some questionable plays further fueled the intense rivalry between the two teams and threatened to get out of control. A Sidwell pitcher and Maret’s freshman first baseman, Xavier Sims, exchanged words, and the following inning a collision between a baserunner and Sims knocked Sims to the ground. This prompted an umpires’ meeting and hasty warnings to both teams. Later in the game, Maret’s left fielder Kane Hassan was spiked while diving back to first base on a pickoff attempt again, and Maret coaches had to step onto the field in order to prevent any altercations. After further discussion among the umpires, order was restored and Hassan was awarded second base. The game concluded without further incident, and the teams exchanged respectful handshakes following the game.
While the loss ended Sidwell’s season, Maret advanced to the semifinals of the tournament on its quest for a share of another MAC banner. Only two more victories stand between another tournament title, which would be the third in as many years for the perennial MAC powerhouse. The team takes the field again on Monday against the Flint Hill School.