Jackson-Reed Baseball advances to DCSAA States Championship after numerous victories

Justin Glenn, Sports Editor

The Jackson-Reed baseball team have found themselves in a position to collect another milestone, a DCSAA States Championship. As the #4 seed, they will matchup against the #2 seed St. Albans Bulldogs(24-9). 

Prior to advancing to the prestigious Championship this Sunday, the Tigers (24-6) played the final 2023 home game in the DCSAA quarterfinals, hosting the Maret Frogs on May 16th. 

The Tigers collected a dominant 7-2 victory, led by Tigers junior right-hander Quinn Lindblom’s notorious clinical pitching, and the batting order’s stellar offensive production.  

Lindblom’s approach to pitching is to “go out, and try to lead by example.. [and] put us in the best possible situation.” The junior’s mindset when on the mound is to “attack hitters, and not walk anybody, throw my heart out, and throw as hard as I can,” he concluded. 

The right-hander threw a complete game of seven innings on 102 pitches, striking out ten and only allowing five hits. He’s now thrown 15 total innings in three postseason appearances. 

Flynn Sullivan in addition helped propel the Tigers to a win, going 2 for 3 with three runs batted in. The senior right fielder acknowledged…

“I knew coming into the game, my mentality was just to lock in,” Sullivan said. “I sat down on the bench for about five minutes, and just looked at the Fort [Reno Park], I’ve been playing it for five years, and I just knew we weren’t going out on a loss [At home].”

Senior captain catcher Gabe Alexander went 3 for 3, ‘23 Metropolitan Baseball Player of the Year Alex-Ozuna Nuñez, accounted for two runs scored. 

“Defend the Fort” is a slogan that’s been carried on throughout years of home field success. The mantra held strong throughout the ‘23 spring, leading to a record of 12-1 when playing as the home team, whether the Tigers were wearing home attire at Fort Reno Park, or at a neutral site. 

This is an essential piece to where the ballclub is now, aiming to collect a States title for the first time since 2018. 

“We weren’t going down on our home field,” senior captain utility man Jacob Gerson stated. “It’s a tough field to play on[Fort Reno], and the away teams are always struggling to play defense here.” 

Maret had a total of five errors, courtesy of wild pitches and poor execution on routine plays to get out of innings.  

Experiencing the playoff crowd, “It felt amazing to go out there, and to feel like you’re at home to defend your school,” Lindblom added.

“You have your school’s dignity on the line, so we tried to go out there, and make you guys[The Jackson-Reed Community] look as good as possible.”

On Thursday, the Tigers traveled to Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Southeast D.C., for the DCSAA Quarterfinals to take on the Gonzaga Eagles(22-11). 

Looking to avenge last year’s 4-2 2022 DCSAA Championship loss to the Eagles, the “underdog” title was placed on the Tigers entering Thursday’s marquee matchup. 

The game opened in the bottom of the 1st inning with a single by sophomore shortstop, Jackson Loomis, scoring the senior infielder Ozuna-Nuñez, and creating a 1-0 ballgame. Senior captain and designated hitter Liam Ervin reached base due to an error by Gonzaga second baseman Jackson Wilburn, scoring Tiger sophomore third baseman Etan Rosario, pushing the score to 2-0. 

The utility man Gerson, who started in left field, smacked a line drive double to center field, scoring Loomis, widening the lead to 3-0.

The first frame continued with Ervin scoring, via a sacrifice-fly by the catcher Alexander, increasing the Tiger advantage to 4-0. 

Gonzaga scored in the bottom of the inning(4-1), off of a pop fly by designated hitter Max Stackhouse, bringing home left fielder Casey Mcgee. 

The top of the 2nd inning started with Tigers senior center fielder Luka Komives, scoring on a wild pitch by Gonzaga right-hander Jack Feehery, creating a support run and increasing the lead to 5-1. 

While the frame continued, the Tiger senior Gerson punished a pitch by relief right-hander Will Shean to center field for a single, scoring Ozuna-Nuñez who reached base off of a walk.  

With action calming down until the top of the 4th inning, Gerson’s productive bat continued with a sacrifice fly to right field, bringing home sophomore Etan Rosario, who singled to center field. 

Gonzaga rallied to make a late charge, with base hits by Mcgee, the centerfielder Jake Gupton, and first baseman Marcus Leclair. That wasn’t enough to complete the comeback though, clinching a Tigers upset victory; 7-4. 

Thursday’s standouts included Loomis going 3 for 4 with an RBI, and Gerson plating three runs after a 2 for 3 day in the batter’s box. Rosario and Ervin both had two base hits to add to the Tiger toll, and contributed to the early offensive cushion the Tigers managed. 

“It is a big stage, and their is a lot of pressure,” Loomis notes. “I found myself nervous in the batter’s box shaking sometimes.. but it doesn’t matter, I’m working for my team, we were all in it together.” 

Inheriting a larger role, as he’ll bat fourth against St. Albans,  the sophomore tells himself, “Smooth, simple, trust your teammates.” By doing that, and looming across the base paths both offensively, and defensively, “I’ve learned more about myself, than in any other season,” he said.

Senior right-hander Ethan Barry took the mound. Going the distance of seven innings, he recorded three strikeouts on 90 pitches in the victory. Barry provided insight on his season, and only allowing four runs to a star studded Gonzaga ballclub; who ripped through Archbishop Carroll(9-21) two days prior, 14-4. 

[Thursday’s game] felt great, Gonzaga is a very good team, and was the #1 seed for a reason.. we prepared well,” the right-hander Barry said. “I am not the type of pitcher to go out and strike them all out, I pitch to contact, and make teams work for their runs.. it felt good to come out on top.”

“My approach was to throw strikes, hit my spots, and let my defense make plays,” Barry continued. “Their hitters are competing just like I am, and my goal was to compete… and want it more than them.. which I did.” 

 “I’ve been the number #2 guy, when we needed a person to come in and throw strikes, that’s what I’m there for.. that’s my job.”

“We are playing like a championship level team with our preparation,” All-Metropolitan Baseball Coach of the Year, Jackson-Reed’s Henry Martinez added.

“-Winning a States championship- [and] every single person in our lineup doing exactly what they need to do, and if everyone does… we’ll go home happy,” senior center fielder Luka Komives said of the Tigers’ goals.

The team’s starting pitcher will be the ‘23 DCIAA championship game most valuable player, the right-handed junior ace of Lindblom. 

After a 9-5 regular season loss to St. Albans, their Championship opponent Sunday, the glaring deterrent in the final score had been a hot start by the Bulldogs offensively, as they plated three runs to start the game. The Tigers weren’t able to catch up, as a come from behind victory fell short on March 30th. 

Almost two months later, Coach Martinez says, “Ethan Barry pitched well enough for us to win, however.. we had key mistakes that cost us and they took advantage of.” 

“We have been studying film of our mistakes, and things that went well for us,” Martinez continued. “We have a game plan, and data to study from both their wins, and losses this past year. 

“It’s a big game, but going with the mentality that it’s just another game, is the main thing for us to have fun, and play loose,” Martinez voiced. “We are more than capable of playing, and winning versus any team, especially with our big dog Quinn[Lindblom] going on Sunday.”

Championship Sunday (May 21) against the St. Albans Bulldogs at Nationals Academy for the DCSAA State title kicks off at 4:30pm. The game will be televised on TigerTV live on Youtube, for all to watch who are not in attendance.