As a sophomore on West Springfield’s varsity baseball team a year ago, center fielder Adham Nabhan did his job and rarely pressed the issue. Then this season, Nabhan was thrust into the leadoff spot, and he said he was thinking a tad too much at the plate.
Friday in Burke against host Lake Braddock, Nabhan was out of the lineup in favor of a designated hitter for the first time this season. Coach Jason Olms, though, kept him at his defensive position. And with the Spartans ahead by one run in the bottom of the seventh with two outs, a ball was roped toward Nabhan for a single with a runner on second.
Nabhan picked the ball up with his glove and threw an absolute laser to catcher Matt Meinhofer. The throw beat the Bruins player home by several feet, and Meinhofer tagged the runner standing to lift the Spartans over Lake Braddock, 6-5.
“All I saw was the guy rounding third and Meinhofer with his hands up with no cutoff man,” Nabhan said. “I knew I had to get it there, I just tried to make a strong throw and he made a great catch and tag.”
The Spartans (11-4, 7-1 Conference 7) jumped to a 6-0 lead in the top of the third with their usual brand of small ball. Of their six runs, three came on singles that landed in gaps. Senior Brandon Padgett went 2 for 3 with a solo home run to left in the second inning and one other RBI.
It was a positive change from their output in Monday’s 3-1 loss at T.C. Williams.
“We’re a bunting team, there’s no doubt about it,” Olms said. “We have a lot of speed, and we like to use it. I think that first run is so important in high school baseball.”
West Springfield 6-foot-3 senior starter Blake Bird pitched 51 / 3 innings with three strikeouts and allowed two runs on six hits. He had strong command of his off-speed pitches, and his fastball got stronger deeper into the game.
“My off-speed stuff was good, but I felt like I lost it towards the end,” Bird said. “I just tried to keep competing and throw strikes with it. I think us being up 6-0 was a big confidence boost for me.”
Friday’s win over Lake Braddock (9-7, 3-5 Conference 7) completed a regular season sweep of the Bruins for the Spartans, their first of its Conference 7 foe since 2010.
“I had never beaten Lake Braddock in my high school career before this season,” Nabhan said. “Having this opportunity to do it twice with this team is amazing.”