In a championship baseball game filled with big hits and special plays, the bottom of the seventh inning was fairly routine. That proved a good thing for Boys’ Latin.
After the Lakers scratched across the go-ahead run on opportunistic base running by Ian McAslan in the top of the seventh, reliever Charlie Godin retired the host Crusaders in order with three flyouts to center fielder Kaden Lymon to seal a 7-6 win Tuesday for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship.
It’s the fifth conference title for the Lakers, who won three straight from 2016 to 2018 before losing in the championship game to Gerstell in 2019. Making amends took two years — the pandemic canceled the 2020 season — but it was well worth the wait as the Lakers closed out the season with a 14-6 mark.
Boys’ Latin went into the championship round in the winners’ bracket before falling to the Crusaders, 11-0, in Monday’s rain. The Lakers showed resiliency in regrouping to claim the road win on their second try Tuesday.
“After yesterday, [losing] 11-0 was tough and all of us were mad and upset. But late night in the group text, we were telling each other how much we loved each other and how we were going to get it done,” Godin said.
After the final out was recorded? “Just instant tears,” he said. “After the sophomore loss in the championship — that was a heartbreak — and I wanted to go out my senior year with a win.”
It wasn’t easy, but looked that way for a while.
The Lakers scored one run in each of the first three innings to take a 3-1 lead with starting pitcher Liam Karey in a good groove. In the top of the fifth, catcher JT Windle hit a three-run double to deep center for a 6-1 advantage.
The Crusaders, who worked out of the losers’ bracket after the Lakers claimed a 9-2 win against them May 20, answered in the bottom of the fifth with four runs that cut the lead to 6-5, including a two-run triple from John Padousis.
With two outs and Olu Kopano on second in the bottom of the sixth, Jack Van Valkenburgh lined a single to center on a 3-2 pitch from Godin to tie the game at 6.
After Monday’s 11-0 loss, Boys’ Latin coach Bill Greenwell simply told his players to believe in themselves. They did just that.
McAslan opened the top of the seventh with a sharp single past second base and took second on an errant pickoff attempt by reliever Charlie Konkolics. On Antonio Aikaterinidis’ groundout to third baseman Alex Cromwell, McAslan waited until after the throw to take third base with one out.
Konkolics was able to strike out Peter Makris, but the third strike was in the dirt, requiring a throw to first for the out. Crusaders catcher Padousis took a look at McAslan before throwing to first, and McAslan headed home as soon as the ball left his hand.
The Lakers’ designated hitter is quick to point out that he’s not the best base runner. But he was when it mattered the most.
“I knew I had to score, so I tried to muster up the best base running I could,” McAslan said. “On that dropped third strike, you just got to wait for him to throw the ball and then you head home. No doubt about it — we had to get that run.”
Godin, who opened the game at third base, finished with a double, a walk and two runs in addition to getting the win with his two innings of relief. Aikaterinidis reached base three times with a double, two runs and one RBI. Lymon and left fielder Braeden Hammett both made a couple big catches.
“This was fun, about as much fun as you can have,” said Greenwell, who was quick to credit his eight seniors for their season-long leadership. “[Before the game,] I told them to believe in themselves. They’ve been playing baseball for a long time and we aren’t going to do anything different. We know them, they know us.”
The Crusaders finished with a 19-3 mark, with all three losses coming against the Lakers.
Van Valkenburgh finished with two hits, two runs and one RBI, while Zach Felton had two singles with two RBIs and one run.
After addressing his players in the outfield following the tough loss, St. Paul’s coach Brandon Taylor hugged them all and passed on encouraging words as they left the field.
“This group is very special, and this has been the most fun I’ve had coaching, and they’ve laid the groundwork for years to come. There wasn’t a whole lot of expectations for us going into the season and they shattered every expectation,” he said. “They came out and handled their business each and every day, got better as baseball players, but, more importantly, got better as young men. Relationships is what it’s all about, and we grew together as the season went on.”
MIAA B championship game
Boys’ Latin 7, St. Paul’s 6
BL 1 1 1 0 3 0 1 -- 7 10 0
SP 1 0 0 0 0 4 1 -- 6 7 1
Karey, Godin (6) and Windle; Meck, Nelson (3) Konkolics (6) and Padousis
2B: BL – Aikaterinidis, Genth, Godin, Windle; SP – Konkolics. 3B: SP -- Padousis