At first, Maret junior Nick Leonard, a smooth-swinging 6-foot-5 left-handed batter, thought the pitch he drilled off of his bat was headed into the right field seats for a two-run home run. It would have given his team the lead in the top of the sixth inning of Sunday’s D.C. High School Baseball Classic at Nationals Park. Instead, it hit high off the wall for a stand-up double, driving in the tying run.
After Maret was held to three runs through five innings and trailed Wilson by a run, Leonard’s hit proved to the game’s biggest momentum shift — an RBI double that started a three-run, sixth-inning rally that powered Maret to a 6-5 win and to its first ever D.C. High School Baseball Classic championship.
“I thought it was gone,” he said with a chuckle. “I blame it on the BBCOR,” referring to the new style of bats introduced this season that have shown to produce less pop than older ones.
The game pitted Wilson, the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association champion, and Maret, the private school representative that defeated St. Albans, 2-0, earlier Sunday to advance to the title game. Both teams pitched well, made stellar defensive plays and played each other tough.
Wilson starter Noah Lipshie held Maret’s offense mostly in check. But it was Maret starter Andrew Culp who turned in a strong complete game performance, overcoming a third inning hiccup to hold the feisty Wilson offense in check and allow his team to rally.
“We kind of rode on his back this entire year,” Leonard said of Culp. “He’s held us together both offensively and on the mound. The way he persevered today was awesome.”
Wilson (20-7-1) took a 4-2 lead in the third inning thanks to a triple and hustle by senior Robinson Mateo, a sacrifice fly by junior Joe Greenberg and an RBI double by senior Marlon Mitchell.
Maret (20-9) chipped away in the fifth inning with a run and then took the lead in the sixth inning. The Frogs tied the score when Culp reached on an error and Leonard plated him with his towering double. Juniors Alex Beschloss and Andrew Reid each drove in a run to give Maret a 6-4 lead.
Wilson threatened with a run in the bottom of the sixth but Culp held them scoreless in the seventh.
“We’re making history,” he said. “We’re excited about that.”
In the DCIAA championship game, played on Sunday afternoon, Wilson continued its reign as the top team in the league with its 20th consecutive title thanks to a 12-2 win over Bell.
“It never gets old,” said Marlon Mitchell, who earned his fourth title trophy on Sunday.
Senior Nate Krieger (who finished 3 for 3), Lipshie and sophomore Scot Beumel each had RBI singles and scored a run in a seven-run first inning.
“It’s a very special thing to see a program that can win 20 consecutive conference championships,” Wilson Coach James Silk said. “I’m not sure where else that’s done around the country.”