BETHESDA — The visiting Damascus Swarmin’ Hornets varsity baseball team closed the regular season Monday night with a statement and a shutout against the Whitman Vikings, 10-0.
A standing-room-only crowd was on hand to celebrate Whitman’s Senior Night and Community Night. The Vikings’ final regular season game was the culmination of an afternoon that featured a raffle and games played by the Montgomery County Little League.
However, the Swarmin’ Hornets (15-2) spoiled the festivities by handing Whitman its eighth loss of the season. Damascus pitcher and University of Maryland-Baltimore County commit Ethan Wentzlaff earned his eighth home run of the season on his first at-bat of the evening.
The next few innings proved to be relatively quiet for both teams. The Whitman dugout tried to distract Wentzlaff on the mound by cheering loudly right before the pitch. However, the senior appeared unflappable and soon his patience paid off.
Damascus’s prolific fifth inning spelled the end for the Vikings as Wentzlaff’s first of two RBI seemed to light a spark in the Hornets. The game that had previously been in reach for Whitman spiraled out of control as Hornet after Hornet slid across home base.
Damascus senior Tyler Retherford earned two RBI of his own as the Hornets continued to pour on the points. Whitman’s offense now stared at a 10-0 deficit when it took the field at the bottom of the fifth. The fifth inning ended up being the final one as the Vikings failed to answer offensively.
“This is the same thing that’s gone wrong all year for us,” said Whitman head coach Joe Cassidy, who appeared stone-faced after the loss. “We have one bad inning, we don’t make routine plays…we’re just very average.”
“I can’t believe we shutout Whitman, they’re a heck of a team,” said Damascus head coach Scott Frye. “We got a couple of lucky breaks and capitalized on them. Other than that, we’d still be playing in the sixth and seventh inning.”
The loss gives Whitman the fourth seed and a date with Walter Johnson headed into the upcoming playoffs, while Damascus is slated to be the first seed.
Frye emphasized that the Hornets’ postseason focus will be on getting back to basics and eliminating mental mistakes.
“Fundamentals win ball games. We had a couple of fundamental mistakes and we cannot have any in the playoffs. All the teams are going to be good,” said Frye. “Whoever plays the best fundamental ball is going to win the championship.”
In addition to recognizing the seniors, the Vikings also celebrated another very important figure in the Whitman community, Dr. Alan Goodwin, who is retiring next month. Goodwin has served as Whitman’s principal for 19 years and has served Montgomery County for 43 years.
Congressman Jamie Raskin stopped by the game to present Goodwin with a plaque and thank him for his years of service.
“He has made Walt Whitman an absolute model of academic, athletic and social excellence for all of our county and indeed all of our state,” said Raskin. “I wanted to express my profound appreciation to Dr. Goodwin, who has done such an amazing job in inspiring this community and making sure the Whitman community will always be Whitman strong.”
Goodwin said that his decision to retire was a difficult one due to his love for the Vikings community.
“It’s quite an emotional rollercoaster; the decision to retire was a challenge,” he said. “I enjoy so many aspects of my job and this community is wonderful to work with, the students, the parents and the staff. I’ve been very fortunate and it’s hard to leave it.”