Thursday, April 20, 2017
Xaverian Baseball Holds Off Newton North
By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)
NEWTON - Xaverian coach Gerry Lambert has been waiting for one of his more inexperienced players to come up big in a key spot. On Thursday afternoon, Sean Birch did just that.
With the Hawks and host Newton North deadlocked in a 1-1 tie in the top of the eighth inning, Birch lined a go-ahead RBI single up the middle that scored Aidan McLaughlin, as Xaverian went on edge the Tigers 3-2 on a cold Thursday afternoon at Newton North High School.
Xaverian (4-3) was able to grab an insurance run two batters after Birch’s single, as a balk brought home Birch to put the Hawks up 3-1.
The insurance run proved critical in the bottom half of the inning when the Tigers (3-2) threatened to win the game.
Cole Whitehouse and John Grady drew back-to-back walks to begin the frame. Hawks’ reliever Dylan Vaglica came up with a strike out and a ground out to get the first two outs of the inning but an error by the shortstop allowed Whitehouse to score and pulled Newton North within 3-2.
Alex Krylov came to the plate for the Tigers with the tying and winning runs on base and belted a first pitch fastball into the right center field gap. Hawks’ centerfielder Vicente Mendoza was able to get a beat on it, however, and tracked it down in plenty of time for the final out of the game.
Hawks coach Gerry Lambert highlighted how Birch’s hit could be signs of an offensive breakthrough for his team as a whole.
“It was great to see Sean Birch step up in a key spot and come away with a big hit,” said Lambert. “We have been struggling in some sorts offensively and so it was huge for us to get some clutch production there.”
Owen Langan started for Xaverian and threw five solid innings.
Langan allowed just one unearned run on four hits, walking two and striking out seven.
The Hawks’ starter even helped his own cause up at the plate, lining a run scoring single off Newton North’s starter in Grady to put Xaverian up 1-0 in the top of the fourth.
Grady for his part was equally as impressive as Langan, going seven innings while allowing only one run on six hits, walking three and fanning seven.
The Tigers’ ace excelled especially at using his curveball when behind in the count, keeping Xaverian’s hitters off balance in typical fastball counts.
After Xaverian took the 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth, the Tigers answered in the bottom of the fifth.
Spencer Checkoway reached on a two base error to begin the frame and came around to score on a game-tying RBI triple off the bat of Cole Whitehouse.
Langan remained calm, however, and retired Grady on strikes to keep the score even heading into the sixth.
The biggest moment of the game occurred undoubtedly in the bottom of the second inning, when it appeared as though the Tigers were going to get to Langan early on.
Ryan McLaughlin singled with one out, and Theo Moore and Krylov each reached base without the benefit of a hit to load the bases.
Langan proceeded to fall behind Checkoway 3-1, putting him on the verge of walking in the first run of the game.
Langan remained composed and fired two fastballs past Checkoway for the second out before getting Ezra Berg looking to get out of trouble.
“When you look at the key moments of the game putting up a zero after you score is huge but the beginning of the game is also big as well,” said Lambert. “I thought Owen (Langan) did a nice job in that spot. He was behind in the count and had to battle back. He is just always able to keep the emotion inside himself and not get overly dramatic on the mound.”