It was three weeks ago that a fastball hit Nick Bazzarone on the inside of his right wrist. The Flint Hill senior was in pain, but he quickly ran down to first base.
“I couldn’t show the pitcher,” Bazzarone said. “I played through the game. After the game, we took an X-ray.”
The picture showed a fractured bone, but Bazzarone was determined to get back on the field, missing just one game and most of another before returning. He has worn a brace to protect his wrist while batting and playing in the field and earlier this week received clearance to resume pitching. On Thursday, he showed his importance to the Oakton private school’s lineup.
Bazzarone doubled twice and came on in relief to pitch 12 / 3 scoreless innings, leading visiting Flint Hill to a 6-1 victory over rival Potomac School in a Mid-Atlantic Conference game between contending teams in McLean.
“I love him, he’s a tough kid who does everything you ask him to do,” said Flint Hill Coach Tom Verbanic, the former longtime football coach at Fairfax and Westfield. “He’s an outstanding defensive center fielder. The kid could play for me at anytime.”
Verbanic called this perhaps his strangest season ever in coaching. Seven starters have missed playing time, including five who were injured. Four, including Bazzarone, were hurt on one day, before and during a 13-9 loss at Sidwell Friends on April 13.
Most of the injured players, including shortstop David Belt, a William & Mary recruit who missed three weeks with a broken wrist, have returned to the lineup. Flint Hill (14-5, 7-3) is one game behind Maret and Sidwell in the loss column and Verbanic believes the Huskies have a team capable of winning its fifth consecutive league title.
A three-year starter in baseball and as a wide receiver on the Flint Hill football team, Verbanic was certain that Bazzarone would play as soon as possible. While the wrist is still healing, Bazzarone showed no effects against Potomac School. His double to the fence in right-center led to a run in the top of the first inning and he led off the fourth with a ground-rule double that one-hopped the three-foot fence in center field, sparking a three-run rally.
That was more than enough as starting pitcher Tommy Doyle allowed just one unearned run before yielding to Bazzarone in the sixth.
The wrist “felt real good today,” Bazzarone said. “And it was Potomac. You always raise your game when you are playing your rivals.”
Patrick Morris singled and scored in the fourth inning for the only run for Potomac (11-8, 6-4).