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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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Dominant pitching lifts the Tigers past Gonzaga to advance to the DCSAA State Championship

The Tigers look for their first state title since 2018 on Sunday against Maret.
The Jackson-Reed varsity baseball team poses for a team photo after their win over Gonzaga Thursday afternoon. Their final game of the season will be on Sunday versus Maret.
Andy Loomis
The Jackson-Reed varsity baseball team poses for a team photo after their win over Gonzaga Thursday afternoon. Their final game of the season will be on Sunday versus Maret.

On Thursday afternoon at Nats Academy, senior right handed pitcher Quinn Lindblom looked down at his glove on the mound and searched for an answer. In the second inning, the captain found himself in a bases loaded jam after a scored run, which gave Gonzaga an early 1-0 lead. 

A dropped third strike, sharp lining base hit single, and two hit batters threatened the Tigers, as the Eagles looked to swoop and slam the door early. Lindblom stepped into his wind-up and delivered a curveball that drew a 1-2 count as he looked to put out a sizzling flame that was one sudden move away from igniting. Then, an 86 mph fastball heater out of Lindblom’s right hand cracked the glove of junior catcher Ethan Fox-Fernandez for a called third strike.

“I was trying to keep my cool, knowing what I worked for, knowing that I practiced my whole life for this moment, and I could win that moment,” said Lindblom, who allowed only three hits to pair with seven strikeouts. This game marked the senior’s final start of his high school career. “I felt amazing [and] put my blood, sweat and tears into that game. That was the final ride with all these guys that I played with for so long, it feels so good.” 

In the fourth inning, Fox-Fernandez stepped to the plate with the bases loaded, courtesy of a single by second baseman Evan Rosario, a ground ball error that placed first baseman Jack Jannsen, and a five-pitch walk for junior Owen Stone. With the bases full, Fox-Fernandez saw a blistering curveball and jumped all over it, lining a ball into left field, tying the game 1-1. 

“It’s a great feeling, I [was] waiting for that one [moment] and I expected it to come, and it did,” said captain Fox-Fernandez, who went 1 for 3 with an RBI. 

The Tigers were one step closer toward completing their comeback. Jannsen stepped to the plate with one out and junior third baseman Freeman Hunt on second base. Gonzaga reached to the top of the shelf in their bullpen, looking to stop a swift change of events. With the intent of saving their ace for Sunday’s championship game, Duke University signee senior Jack Feehery was unavailable unless badly needed. However, the lefty arm entered the game with neither team in the lead. 

Jannsen saw ball one high, the second strike in the zone looking, and two straight foul balls against the left-hander Feehery. On pitch five of the at-bat, Jannsen blooped a ball over the third baseman’s head, out stretching the reach of the Eagle’s shortstop for a perfectly placed RBI single. Hunt scored from second and the Tigers had their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. 

“After watching [Feehery’s] warmup pitches, I was thinking there was a good chance I would get walked, [which] is a terrible approach,” said Jannsen. “He was able to command his curveball pretty well early on as I fouled a few off. Going into the final pitch I was thinking curveball again, but he came with a high fastball and I was just able to get enough off it and squeeze it over the third basemen’s head. Overall was a grimy at-bat against a talented arm, lefty on lefty.” 

With a second error committed by the Eagles that game, the Tigers were lent well needed breathing room. A ground ball routine chopper, turned into a hit for junior right fielder Gabriel Betancourt and scored junior third baseman Etan Rosario, who pinch ran for Jannsen. Sophomore righty Nelson Hayes entered the game in relief of Lindblom and pitched two shutout innings, with five strikeouts and credit for a save. The Tigers held on and completed their comeback, 3-1, beating Gonzaga for a second consecutive year in the state semi-final.

ON THE HILL – Senior Quinn Lindblom in the middle of his windup on the mound against Gonzaga.

“The boys didn’t feel any panic, and that was a good sign,” said head coach Robinson Mateo. “The boys are all in on a [state championship] and they’re hot.” 

Even with a warm 80 degree afternoon of heat upon Nats Academy, JR’s pitching staff stood strong against a batting order composed of numerous undecided and four college commits (two of those Division I). “They just executed everything that they were supposed to, they kept their pitches low, were able to locate with their offspeed and had great command on their fastballs,” said pitching and assistant coach Kelli Jenkins. “They made in-game adjustments that we asked them to make.” 

Both Lindblom and Hayes combined for just one walk and surrendered no earned runs, tallying 12 punchouts. 

At the plate, the Tigers battled. The team crafted 14 quality at-bats with either seeing six-plus pitches or with two strikes in any count; they extended the plate appearance by three pitches. “Obviously we won this game because of Lindblom, but we had a lot of barrels, a lot of hits, [and] several RBIs. We put pressure on teams, and we did that today,” said hitting and assistant coach Luke Wallis. “If we stick to our identity of putting pressure on teams, I expect good things will happen.”

Fox-Fernandez and Jannsen both had game defining swings. “Those two guys have become two of my favorite players because of how hard they’ve worked to get here,” said Wallis. “Jannsen has been one of our better hitters all year [and] Fox-Fernandez got hurt earlier in the season, missed the entire [spring training] Dominican Republic trip, and had to fight his way back to earn his spot in our lineup.” Now, the pair are essential pieces to a puzzle that can bring home a state championship for the first time in five seasons. 

For the DCSAA State Championship, the Tigers will face Maret on Sunday. The Tigers (22-7) and Frogs (14-11) met last in the 2023 state quarter final where JR won 7-2. 

The Frogs notably beat St. Albans, 2-0 in their matchup on Thursday. 

Senior captain right-hander Casey Edwards will take to the mound, where first pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and will be televised on TigerTV Live on Youtube. 

“[We just] go out there and play our game. When our confidence is up, we can win,” said captain Lindblom. “When the family comes together, we can win baseball games, the only people who can beat us is ourselves.”

COLLABORATIVE COACHES – The JR baseball staff in a postgame debrief with players. Coaches Kelli Jenkins, Robinson Mateo and Luke Wallis look forward to the team’s matchup against Maret on Sunday.
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About the Contributor
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
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