Georgetown Prep came into Wednesday’s IAC showdown at St. Albans with hot bats and an unblemished conference record of 4-0. The Hoyas put up 30 runs in those four wins. Bulldogs starting pitcher Owen Basso was just as hot coming off a 6-3 win over Landon last week in which he struck out 8 and scattered 3 hits over 6 2/3 innings. Something had to give between the two teams at the top of the IAC standings and Basso and Myles Upchurch, STA’s junior and freshman right-handers, respectively, were determined that it would not be the home team. Although Prep put runners in scoring position in all five of Basso’s innings, he fought his hardest when it counted the most getting clutch strikeouts and timely fielding to keep the Hoyas off the scoreboard.
After sandwiching a groundout between two walks in the top of the first, Basso struck out the next batter. With two outs and Prep runners on second and third after a pitch that got away, Basso threw a 3-2 curve that was grounded to senior Zack Lubar at shortstop, who made a strong throw to first. In the Bulldogs’ first turn at the plate designated hitter Peter Pinto, batting second, hit an opposite-field fly ball to right that eluded Prep’s center and right fielders. When the Prep fielders hesitated on who would pick up the ball, Pinto alertly took second base. With junior third baseman Colin Rogers at the plate, Pinto advanced to third on a passed ball. Rogers then hit a deep fly ball to left that was caught but brought Pinto home on the tag up. That was all Basso and Upchurch would need, although they both had to pitch out of trouble throughout the game.
After a groundout for the first out in the second, Basso gave up a double, then struck out the next two hitters looking. The Bulldogs tried to manufacture a run in the bottom of the second when senior Alex Giambi drew a leadoff walk and junior Elliott Eaton moved him to second with a well-executed bunt. Junior second baseman Clark Mocek hit a double to the left-center gap that hung in the air giving the Prep fielders a shot at catching it. That and a strong throw from the Prep center fielder was enough to hold Giambi at third. Prep’s junior left-hander Tom Roldan, a University of Virginia commit, struck out the next two Bulldog batters to get out of the inning.
Mocek snagged a sharp line drive at second base to start the top of the third. The Hoyas then hit another double on a sharply hit ball down the right field line that senior Nick Pittman cut off with a sliding save and narrowly missed throwing out the runner at second with a strong throw from one knee. Again, Basso battled his way out of the inning getting a groundout to third and another line drive out, this time to Lubar at short. Basso got Prep’s first two batters of the fourth on consecutive groundballs to Mocek and it looked like he might get his first 1-2-3 inning of the day but Prep hit their third double of the game hoping to spark a 2-out rally. The unflappable Basso induced a roller to first base that Elliott Eaton scooped up and beat the runner to the bag to close out the inning.
Basso started off an eventful fifth inning with his fourth strikeout, then gave up a walk to Prep’s speedy shortstop Aiden Dubetsky. With Prep looking to manufacture the tying run, Dubetsky tried to steal second but Bulldogs’ senior catcher Zach Marchick threw a strike to Lubar for the second out of the inning. However, Prep was not done as their next batter battled for an 8-pitch walk, then advanced to third on an errant pick-off attempt. True to form, Basso did his best work with his back against the wall, jamming a Prep hitter with an inside fastball that was popped up to Rogers at third to end the threat.
Freshman right-hander Myles Upchurch took over for Basso to start the sixth and got STA’s only 1-2-3 inning of the game with two pop-ups and a groundout, all to Lubar at shortstop. Still looking for an insurance run, Eaton laced a two-out double to left field in the bottom of the sixth. Pinch-runner Spencer Hall took third on a wild pitch but a groundball to third ended the inning and set up a dramatic seventh inning. Upchurch started the seventh with a strikeout for his fourth consecutive out. The next Prep batter hit a shot to first that handcuffed Eaton and the runner beat his toss to Upchurch. Upchurch got the next batter to fly out to right. Prep hit a sharp single to right with two outs and Pittman held the lead runner at second with a strong throw. The Bulldogs tried to catch that lead runner with a back-pick but Marchick’s throw took an unlucky bounce at the bag, putting the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at second with two outs. Like his older teammate, Upchurch never flinched and got a groundball to second base that Mocek fielded cleanly and fired to Eaton at first for the final out.
The win moves St. Albans into a first-place tie with Prep in the IAC at 4-1 and marks the halfway point of their IAC schedule. The two teams play again tomorrow at Prep at 4:30pm to close out the two-game regular season series.