As the Potomac School baseball reserves crept closer to the field to rush it in celebration of a Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference championship, Sidwell Friends crept closer on the scoreboard. An eight-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday became a three-run lead with two runners on base and the potential tying run at the plate.
Potomac School Coach Eric Crozier shooed his overeager players back in place until the Panthers could nail down the win. That final precious out finally came when junior reliever Johnny Read caught a popup to preserve an 8-5 championship win at Sidwell in what first-year coach Crozier was told was Potomac School’s first league title since the mid 1990s.
“Oh, man, they rushed the field,” said Crozier, whose Panthers beat St. James and top seed Maret to advance to face Sidwell, a team Potomac School had lost to twice this season.
The fourth-seeded Panthers (16-9) played an error-less tournament after mistakes had cost them several games this season. They took an early lead Friday on a two-run double in the first by freshman Josh Hansan. Junior Henry O’Shea hit a solo homer in the fifth to make it 7-0 and senior Kevin Green singled in a run in the sixth to give junior right-hander Andrew Kuhn an 8-0 lead. Junior Max Ausbrook also had two hits.
Third seed Sidwell (16-13) got three runs off Kuhn in the bottom of the seventh and junior Aidan Monheim hit Read’s first pitch for a two-run homer that made it 8-5. Two more Quakers reached base and moved up on a passed ball before Read could notch the final out.
“I had all the confidence in the world in him,” Green said of Read, who had thrown 101 pitches Wednesday in the 8-4 semifinal win against Maret. “Not much rattles Johnny.”
“We’ve had problems in the past finishing games,” said right fielder Patrick Morris, the team’s only other senior besides Green. “That’s when we’ve run into the most trouble. We come out with fire and lose it in the end.”
Not this time, but the possibility was there for another game to slip away.
“At times [this season] the guys were a little frustrated about what was going on,” said Crozier, a former first baseman-designated hitter who played 14 games with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2004. “For them to piece it all together the last three games, it’s been a fun thing to watch. I think they began to believe in themselves.”