After throwing a no-hitter Friday to win Game 1 of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference baseball finals, St. John’s senior Brodie Leftridge entered Saturday’s Game 2 with a ton of confidence. With a solid showing at the plate and in center field, he could help bring the conference trophy back to his school for the first time since 2011.
Though the fourth-ranked Cadets had to face O’Connell sophomore ace Rafi Vazquez, the WCAC’s player of the year, they had little trouble closing a sweep of the best-of-three series. In the top of the first with one out, Leftridge, a Tennessee signee, smoked a fastball to left field for a double, and what followed was one of the Cadets’ best offensive performances of the season at the perfect time.
Seven of the next nine St. John’s batters reached base as the Cadets built a six-run lead Saturday en route to a 16-0 win over the Knights at the University of Maryland’s Shipley Field at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium. Meanwhile, the pitching was stellar again as three Cadets combined for another no-hitter.
St. John’s (23-6) had 19 hits and blanked O’Connell for the school’s eighth WCAC title. Leftridge finished 3 for 5 with two RBI, and every St. John’s starter knocked in at least one run.
“We got the guys together before the game and we told them we were going to finish it out,” said Leftridge, who was on the freshman team the last time the varsity won the tournament. “We didn’t do it the last two years, but we were going to do it this year.”
The Cadets ran into standout pitching the past two seasons by McNamara, falling in the quarterfinals in 2012 and in the semifinals in 2013.
But Saturday it was St. John’s that brought the electric pitching as junior starter AJ Lee pitched a gem for five innings. The Maryland commit looked right at home on his future field as he struck out five batters with no hits allowed and no walks. The only two hitters to reach off Lee came on an error and a dropped third strike. Lee also went 3 for 4 with a game-high four RBI.
“I really wanted to attack early with the hard stuff in the middle of the order and try to mix it up a bit,” Lee said. “I just trusted my defense, and everything took care of itself.”
Lefelar and Pearson each walked the leadoff batter of an inning and then retired the side. Pearson’s fastball was clocked in the low 90s Saturday, and his final pitch struck out the O’Connell (16-13) batter swinging. After his strikeout, Pearson threw his glove into the air and the dugout cleared for a dogpile.
“Coming in, we knew we would have to pitch the best and hit the best we had,” Pearson said. “For Brodie to do what he did yesterday and us three to follow that is amazing.”