In an untidy game, it was a clean, opposite-field, RBI ground-ball single to right that finally ended a long 3-hour, 1-minute high-school baseball contest, giving the host and 2019 state-champion Lake Braddock Bruins a 9-8 extra-inning victory over the McLean Highlanders.
Lake Braddock cleanup hitter Grant Hartman singled into right field to score Javier Rueda with the walk-off game-winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. The seesaw competition included four lead changes and three ties.
“We made a lot of mistakes and I thought we got outplayed for the better part of the game,” said Lake Braddock coach John Thomas, who played high-school baseball at McLean and was later the Highlanders’ head coach. “That’s a good team. We executed that basic hit when we had to at the end, and it was good for us to find a way to get a victory.”
Lake Braddock improved to 2-0 and McLean fell to 0-2, losing to Madison, 12-0, in its season opener. Madison and Lake Braddock are regarded as two of the top Class 6 public-school teams in the state this season.
McLean coach John Dowling said playing that type of tough competition to start the season can only help his young team get better.
The game between McLean and Braddock included seven errors, five wild pitches, four hit batters and a balk.
Each team had opportunities to win in the regulation seven innings. Mistakes were particular costly in the bottom of the third inning for McLean, when Lake Braddock scored five runs with the help of three errors.
“We didn’t consistently make the adjustments and have the right approaches we needed against their pitchers,” Dowling said. “And we have to take care of the ball better than that on defense.”
Lake Braddock, which was missing one key starter and had another playing out of position because of injuries, used five pitchers.
McLean had 11 hits and stranded nine runners and Lake Braddock had eight hits.
For McLean, starting pitcher and staff ace Griffin Stieg, Chris Morabito, Nicholas Norton and Robert Coates all had two hits. Stieg stole four bases and Morabito two.
One of Norton’s hits was a third-inning grand slam. He also doubled, as did Luu, Morabito and Jacob Lynes. Jakob Luu and Thomas Myers singled for McLean. Evan Fontaine had an RBI groundout, and Stieg and Lyons had RBI.
Stieg pitched 42/3 innings, striking out four with a walk.
“I was very excited and wanted to pitch against Lake Braddock, and I wanted to pitch against Madison, too,” Stieg said. “I think we proved in this game we can be a good team.”
McLean freshman right-hander Aidan Carey fanned four in 31/3 frames of scoreless relief, allowing one hit.
In two games, Carey has fanned seven in 41/3 innings of relief.
For Lake Braddock, Michael Weidinger homered and had two hits and three RBI; Andrew Schaeb had two RBI; Maksym Jensen had a hit and an RBI; and starting pitcher Ryan Cuadros, Jacob Drumm, Evan Schick and Rueda had singles.
For Thomas, he was facing his old team for the initial time since he has coached at Lake Braddock, first as an assistant.
“I thought about that before the game, but not once it started,” Thomas said.
McLean’s one hit in the five-inning loss to Madison was Lynes’ fourth-inning single. Bobby Kennedy and Luu were hit by pitches.