Jimmy Swad tried to shake his anxiety before taking the mound for St. Albans in Saturday’s Interstate Athletic Conference baseball title game against Georgetown Prep. But time after time, the senior pitcher’s efforts to calm his nerves were shaken by circumstance.
The day prior to the game, the Bulldogs lost one of their top players, designated hitter Charles Parrino, to a broken hand. Then in Saturday’s first inning, consecutive walks placed him in a bases-loaded jam before he was able to force a popup to escape.
Were it not for the early pinch, Swab admits he may have been a nervous wreck in the seventh, when the Little Hoyas again loaded the bases and threatened to rally past the Bulldogs for the third time this year. Instead, the senior watched confidently from his spot in the field as Chase Packard struck out the final batter to seal the Bulldogs’ 4-1 win and dethrone the host Little Hoyas in Bethesda. The outcome delivered St. Albans its first baseball title since 2010 and snapped Prep’s 35-game win streak against IAC opponents.
“I was really nervous coming into the game,” said Swad, who allowed just two hits in five scoreless innings. “We hadn’t beat them in a long time and they are one of the most dangerous hitting teams, so when they loaded the bases, it was nerve-wracking. But I was able to settle down and our guys backed me up on offense, so it’s a great feeling.”
The Bulldogs (17-4) struck first with a run in the first inning but the Little Hoyas quickly loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame. After working the strike zone, the Georgetown commit forced a popup to center field to get out of the inning unscathed.
The Little Hoyas (23-8) pulled ace pitcher Corey Howard after four innings and the Bulldogs immediately capitalized. After two batters reached base on an error and a walk, Thomas Buck laced a triple deep into right field that scored two runs and put the Bulldogs ahead, 3-0. Mike Schmandt brought Buck home on the next at-bat with a double to left-center, energizing a squad already riding high after winning its last nine games.
“I knew the pitcher didn’t throw a lot of off-speed pitches, so when I saw a fastball on the first pitch, I made sure to get my bat on it,” Schmandt said. “This was the biggest game of my life, so I had to deliver.”
The Little Hoyas got on board in the seventh after Tanner Sampson scored on a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded. With one out, the Bulldogs brought in Packard, who forced a groundout and recorded a strikeout to seal the victory.
“Coach has been telling us all year about believing in ourselves, and once we got going, it showed what we were capable of,” Buck. “It’s great to go out like this as a senior.”