BETHESDA—The Bethesda Chevy Chase Barons boys varsity baseball team (14-7) wiped out the Northwood Gladiators (4-16) in the first round of the MPPSSA playoffs at Bethesda-Chevy Chase field on Monday afternoon.
“A win is a win,” said Barons head coach John Schmidt. “You win and you advance. And that’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to convincingly try to get everything going — every part of our game — hitting, fielding and pitching and, I think, today we did…I think we can hang with a lot of people when we’re going in the right direction…You don’t take anybody lightly…Play for the next day. Don’t think about tomorrow, think about today and today, we took care of business.”
Barons senior catcher Spencer Sampson, who supplied a three-run home run, said, “I think it was a good win for us. It showed our bats are alive and we’ve come out with a playoff mentality. Ready to get it tomorrow.”
Barons junior starting pitcher John Narvaiz explained of this year’s team, “I think in the beginning of the season we had a little bit of overconfidence. We lost a few close games early this season…facing that adversity, came together and we’re ready. We’re battle-tested and we’re ready to leave this section as champions.”
In the bottom of the first with two outs, the Barons delivered a big three-run home run off the bat of Sampson to take a 4-1 lead. By the end of the first inning, the score would read: Barons 6, Gladiators 1.
Coach Schmidt said, “We scored with two outs. That was huge. We scored six runs with two outs. That was big. Sampson, our catcher, been there for us all year, he’s been solid behind the plate. He’s been struggling a bit with the bat but it was good to see him come through. He got a hold of it. It was a no-doubter. That’s a three-run home run. Anytime you can get runs, they’re at a premium. Get through it once we’ll take it. He got everything on that one.”
Spencer, who hit his first home run of his senior season and sixth overall, said, “He threw me kind of a fastball up and in. It’s my pitch. I jumped on it. So, getting ready to hit, wasn’t looking for a home run. Looking not to do too much.”
Six runs in the second inning and eight runs in the third inning would push the game to its final score of 20-1.
Said Schmidt, “Offensively, we were there. We were hitting the ball well. They had themselves a few errors. But for the most part we were scoring…and we had quality at bats almost all the way through the lineup. We got guys that are hitting the ball, it’s hard to stop us. I think our offense can hang with a lot of teams with the county…as long as we keep hitting the ball.”
The Barons defense and pitching were equally impressive. Junior starting pitcher John Narvaiz commanded the strike zone with authority. En route to a two-hit, six-strikeout performance, Narvaiz displayed an ability to use changeups with accuracy and consistency, saying, “I knew going into this game, we definitely felt like we were the better team and we were very confident coming in…Struggled a little bit in the first inning, got it turned around second, third and fourth. Went after them. Mixed in some more changeups. I think that helped, keeping the hitters off balance and letting my fielders do the work.”
Coach Schmidt was impressed with his starting pitcher, saying, “After that first inning…he’s usually a slow starter in terms of getting out of that first inning but he settled down fine in the second, third and fourth. It’s all about getting that first pitch strike and…he didn’t in that first inning. Walk, error, walk. Pitch by pitch, that kills you. Minimize that damage. Go from there, which he did a great job of later on.”
Gladiators head coach Tim Pritchard said, “Their pitcher was around the plate, threw strikes. He was very smart and thought he did a heck of a job. Pitched all around very well…”
The Gladiators got their one run in the top of the first. A bases-loaded sacrifice fly to Barons senior center fielder Sebastian Mieses by Gladiators senior left fielder Oscar Pittman accounted for the Gladiators only run.
Pritchard thought it was a big RBI at the time, saying, “Pittman’s a senior. He’s been with me since his sophomore year. He’s been one of my stronger players. Always been in the outfield for me…If I ask him to play somewhere else, he has a great attitude. It’s great to see him come up get a RBI at a big situation for us at the time...”
The losing pitcher for the Gladiators was pitcher/shortstop Zach Budwell. He could not get past the second inning.
Pritchard said of his Gladiators, “Yeah, our kids…coming from Northwood, a lot of these guys are playing for the first time. And when they came out, they’re always positive. They’re always a 100 percent attitude. And, they grow as men, boys to men through baseball. As (anyone in) baseball knows, to be successful three out of ten times…and they’re starting to understand that. Sometimes it’s not always like easy. I’m proud of them. Couldn’t be prouder of them anymore than any other day. They show more class and do what they’re supposed to do.”
For the afternoon, the Barons high-flying charge was fueled through the lineup with Mieses being the spark plug.
Mieses led off the game with a hard-hit double. In his next two at bats, he singled and tripled. His three-for-three cemented his place as the leadoff juggernaut for this victorious Barons squad.
“…Just as a leadoff hitter…I go, the team goes”, said Mieses.
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