As the McNamara baseball team jogged to the dugout for the bottom of the sixth inning Thursday night, the situation was beyond bleak.
The Mustangs had won two games all season and were winless in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. They trailed No. 9 DeMatha by 11 runs and were one inning away from being shut out for the sixth time this season.
Then, something crazy happened.
Aided by Stags mistakes and an inside-the-park home run, McNamara caught a wave of momentum and scored 12 runs in the bottom of the sixth. The Mustangs held on in the seventh to complete an improbable, if not miraculous, comeback and win, 12-11.
“After 27 years of coaching,” McNamara Coach Larry Prange said, “you don’t see that one every day.”
The Mustangs (3-18) had scored just 12 total runs in their first 11 games against WCAC opponents before Thursday. But in the sixth, everything started snowballing in their favor. Fifteen batters came to plate, seven walked and six collected hits, including the home run by sophomore Chase Ragsdale.
“[DeMatha’s pitcher] was a little wild, we were patient, we got good pitches to hit and we put them in play,” Prange said. “It’s been a long year for us, but we fight for seven innings. As long as we have outs to give, we keep fighting, and today was just one of those amazing innings.”
Ragsdale provided the highlight of the game with what he thought was merely a single to left field. As the sophomore centerfielder jogged slowly to first base, he saw DeMatha’s left fielder dive for the ball and miss. Ragsdale, who Prange said is the team’s fastest player, immediately turned on the jets, scoring before the ball had returned to the infield.
Ragsdale said the inning was especially meaningful after McNamara fell to DeMatha, 3-2, in the WCAC championship series last season. The sophomore is one of only a handful of returning players from that team.
“It was very emotional,” Ragsdale said. “We got a couple men on base, the bases were loaded a couple times, and we just kept scoring and scoring and scoring. We were thriving off of their errors. They kept making errors, and we kept scoring.”
DeMatha (12-6) fought back in the top of the seventh with two singles and a walk, but McNamara senior closer Paul Snow ended the rally. He struck out the final batter he faced before his teammates charged out of the dugout, mobbing him on the mound.
“It’s kind of hard to explain. I’m going to have to replay it in my head a couple of times,” Prange said, laughing. “I feel good for the kids, because our kids have worked really hard. . . . something good finally happened to them for all the hard work they’ve put in.”