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The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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Rain? No Problem. Varsity Baseball advances to DCSAA Semifinal in win over Sidwell Friends

ONE+TEAM+-+The+varsity+baseball+embrace+after+a+March+21+win+over+the+Landon+School.+Nearly+two+months+later%2C+the+goal+of+a+DCSAA+title+is+near.+
Eli Schwartz
ONE TEAM – The varsity baseball embrace after a March 21 win over the Landon School. Nearly two months later, the goal of a DCSAA title is near.

At around 1:30 p.m on Tuesday, the varsity baseball team reported to Fort Reno Park, two hours ahead of the DCSAA Quarter Final against Sidwell Friends. Opening the equipment shed, the players would normally pull out their gloves, bats, and baseballs, then begin pregame stretches and warmups. However, in their final home game of the season, the routine to their 9-3 win was different. 

Instead of gear, the Tigers pulled out sacks of diamond-dry and dirt rakes. Spurts of rain throughout midday made it difficult to get the infield in playing condition, ahead of the moved up 3:30 p.m. start time. To rake mud and pour dry sand over puddles on the infield dirt was a daunting task for players and coaches alike who labored for roughly half a hour. An hour and a half before the scheduled first pitch, the game was moved five minutes down the road to Sidwell Friends’ home field. 

“Their field was in a better condition than ours which helps out both teams,” said junior center fielder Zander Leckszas. “While we would have enjoyed our final home game defending Reno, we were even more motivated to win on the opponents turf. [Our] energy was great, so I can’t complain about the field change.” 

In the first inning, junior shortstop Jackson Loomis settled into his stance, with a one ball and zero strike count. As a light rain fell, Loomis’ approach was to stay aggressive and attack good pitches as hitting coach Luke Wallis has lobbied his players to do all season. The DCIAA Player of the Year smoked a fastball into the elements, for an opposite field leadoff home run, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead. 

“I was looking for fastballs away so that I could hit the ball opposite field,” said Loomis, whose hit tallied the first run on the scoreboard and marked his sixth home run of the season. Loomis [uses] the approach as a mental strategy when at the plate. “I [plan] on hitting any pitch that comes out of his hand until the very end if it’s a ball. I ended up getting that fastball away so I took it to right field.” 

The hits in the game against the Quakers came in bunches. Five hits and seven RBIs backed a quality start from junior right-handed pitcher Owen Stone. In wet conditions, he walked four batters, but struck out five and only allowed one hit on a weak ground ball single in five innings of work. 

“My fastball and curveball were working the best but I threw in a few changeups against lefty batters,” said Stone, who lowered his ERA to 1.27. “Game plan was to throw strikes and pitch to contact so that I could throw later in the week. I didn’t want to go over the pitch limit. Getting outs early in counts were key.” 

AT THE DISH – Senior first baseman Jack Jannsen in the batters box against the Landon School. Jannsen had two RBI’s Wednesday against Sidwell. (Eli Schwartz)

With both teams navigating the rain, they each had their share of errors. JR committed four, but Sidwell was bitten worse by mistakes. Although on their home field, five errors by the Quakers led to three unearned runs in favor of the Tigers. 

Despite the fielding mishaps, the Tigers had four big outfield catches by juniors Ryan Skelly in left, Zander Leckszas in center, and Gabriel Betancourt in right which saved runs from scoring. “No one is used to playing in bad conditions like we are,” added Leckszas. “Without an indoor facility we tend to practice rain or shine outside, which definitely helped our defensive ability [on Tuesday]. We pride ourselves heavily in our defensive ability, defense wins games.” 

In the top of the fifth, the tables however were turned. Stone found himself in a jam that threatened to deflate a 6-0 cushion. An error at shortstop, a sacrifice bunt, and a walk placed runners at the corners for Sidwell with one out. 

In the wet and sticky conditions, Stone prevailed. Getting the Quakers’ heart of the order to surrender a strikeout and groundout, the Tigers escaped the jam. “In the fifth, I was just trying to stay composed. I took a few breaths and knew that If I located a couple pitches, I could get out of the jam,” Stone said. In all, the junior threw 84 pitches. “My teammates and coaches also helped and encouraged me.” 

Junior right hander Simon Corbin and sophomore righty Nelson Hayes were subbed in late in the game, in relief of Stone. The Quakers scored three runs in the top of seventh, but it was too little, too late. The Tigers have beaten Sidwell twice this season.

“The team is hungry, they love playing for each other and that’s something you can’t teach,” said head coach Robinson Mateo. In terms of how the team adjusted to the change in location, “I had a conversation with them to not worry about all the changes, and just focus on us and the things that we can control. I give them a lot of credit after the game. It is not easy to go into someone else’s home and play hard.” 

The team will look to do that on Thursday, traveling across town to Nats Academy. The Tigers (21-7) will play the Gonzaga Eagles (19-12), who beat Archbishop Caroll in their matchup on Tuesday 6-2. 

EYES ON THE PRIZE – Junior center fielder Zander Leckszas looks ahead from the dugout on March 21 against the Landon School. Now, a battle tested Tigers team takes on Gonzaga this afternoon in the state semifinal.

The Tigers and Eagles have played once, in a pre-season scrimmage back in March, where the Eagles won 3-0. Notably, Thursday’s game will be a second round rematch of the boy’s DCSAA run last season, where the Tigers won 7-4. The team is approaching Thursday’s rubber match differently. 

“Practice this afternoon will be centered around defense, as we are going to get a lot of action in tomorrow’s game,” said Loomis. “Quinn [Lindblom] is a stud, but he’s pitching against a great team who will make a lot of contact, so we have to prepare for those kinds of plays.” Leading the charge to the state semifinal, “I am just glad that I have my teammates and especially giving the seniors another shot in the tournament,” said Stone. “If we just go one game at a time, I know we can win it all.”

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About the Contributors
Justin Glenn
Justin Glenn, Sports Editor
Justin is a sports fanatic.. you’ll most likely see him with a baseball cap of some sort throughout the hallways. If he isn’t writing about high school sports, he’s likely watching a D.C. sports team, NASCAR or some other professional league in his free time. Outside of sports, he enjoys the outdoors and watching Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, besides that, he’s an average out-going person.
  • 2023-24: Assistant Sports Editor
Eli Schwartz, Assistant Director of Art and Design
  • 2022-23: Senior Photo Editor
  • 2023-24: Assistant Director of Art and Design
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