Such gems no longer sneak up on him. They happen too often for that. Two weeks ago he threw a six-inning no-hitter against Ireton, with 11 strikeouts, and in his next appearance, he threw a no-hitter for 6 and 2/3 innings against O’Connell before giving up a game-tying home run in his team’s eventual 2-1 eight-inning win.
At the time St. Joseph’s signee Lawson surrendered the homer — junior center fielder Andrew Page almost made a play on the ball — he had fanned 11 consecutive batters and finished with 16 strikeouts. So he was not expecting to give up a hit, let alone a homer, to fall just short of back-to-back no-hitters.
“I was a little shocked that he put it in play and it happened to go over the fence to tie the game,” said Lawson of O’Connell junior Alec Daniele‘s launch of a grooved 2-0 fastball with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. “That really was a bummer for me. I was a little distraught. I was a little confused.
“When I think back on it, I just wish I could have executed better or maybe thrown a different pitch on 2-0. I was just challenging hitters at that point.”
So instead of polishing off a second consecutive no-hitter, Lawson needed one more out just to push the game to extra innings. He got that, but up to about 95 pitches at that point, he did not throw the eighth. Junior Mitch Freeborne notched the win.
“The initial reaction for everybody was shock and awe, No. 1 with the pitching performance of Braedon and a tip of the hat to the O’Connell player coming up pretty big in that moment,” Paul VI Coach Jeff Nolan said. “It was something to see, let’s put it that way.
“There was a moment there when [Lawson] was obviously visibly disappointed and he collected himself quickly and showed a lot of toughness and grit to get his emotions in check and get that last out [in the seventh]. With the disappointment of losing the no-hitter that late it, could have trickled into the wheels coming off.”
In both games, Lawson had command of all four of his pitches — a fastball, circle change, curveball and slider — and worked ahead of hitters. Senior Lucas Martinez (New Mexico State), calling his own pitches, caught both games.
Lawson, who has not pitched since his almost two-fer, is scheduled to start either Wednesday against Good Counsel or Saturday in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference quarterfinals. He was the winning pitcher in the third game of the three-game WCAC championship series last year.
At St. Joseph’s, Lawson will play for first-year assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Kyle Werman, an Oakton graduate who has coached at George Mason and Radford after playing at Virginia. Lawson also will join five Washington area players, including Paul VI grad Lansing Veeder, a sophomore pitcher-infielder, on the Hawks roster, in addition to 2013 signees Cal Jadacki (Langley) and Taylor Boyd (West Springfield).
But first there is savoring his senior year. This season Lawson has struck out 53 batters and walked seven.
“It’s pretty amazing that he pitched 12 and 2/3 innings without giving up a hit to two teams that swing the bat well,” Nolan said. “It’s a feat.”
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