“Catch it, Vince,” the Little Hoyas cried. “Catch it!”
Junior Vincent Walker gained steam and completed his sprint with a snare on senior Garrett Zoukis’s perilous flyball. With the sixth inning complete, Walker returned to hugs and cheers from the visitor’s bench in Bethesda. Zoukis removed his batting helmet and trudged past home wearing a stoic expression along with smeared eye-black.
Power pitching carried Georgetown Prep to a 6-1 victory and its fifth IAC title on Saturday, but when the Bears did hit, the Little Hoyas’ defense was locked in. First baseman Chandler Redmond’s sliding catch on a foul ball near the fence protecting the Little Hoyas’ dugout and Walker’s race in right field were just two highlights that helped leave 10 Landon runners stranded.
“That’s when I knew we had it,” Georgetown Prep junior pitcher Matt Mervis said. “Both of those plays silenced [their] dugout.”
In contrast, Mervis’s right arm brought the noise out of Georgetown Prep (19-9). The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Duke recruit leaned on a furious fastball he dared the Bears to hit high in the zone. He helped himself with a sacrifice fly in his final plate appearance and struck out seven in five innings, allowing just one run on four hits and five walks.
“I like fastballs, I like throwing hard and I like throwing up [in the zone], making kids look silly,” Mervis said.
Senior left-hander Andrew Ashur recorded five strikeouts in the last two innings without allowing a hit. He fanned the first two batters he faced before walking one and inducing the flyball from Zoukis. After striking out the side to finish the game, Ashur was buried under a pile of Little Hoyas.
Moments earlier, junior Zach Seal — who scored one of two runs in the sixth and helped Georgetown Prep jump out to a 2-0 lead with an RBI single in the second — grabbed a classmate and told him to round up all the Little Hoyas he could from the IAC lacrosse final being played by the same two teams on a field downhill from the diamond to join in the impending celebration.
Landon (15-9) won both regular season games against the Little Hoyas, but the Bears had not faced Mervis before. Sophomore left-hander Randy Bednar Jr. — a Maryland recruit — struggled with control early, hitting three batters and allowing three runs on four hits before leaving the game with the bases loaded after 4
Zoukis went 2 for 3 with a double, a walk and a fourth-inning RBI single, but no other Bear collected more than one hit. After the game, he wiped misty eyes and pulled teammates tight into his filthy uniform for hugs and handshakes.