BETHESDA — The 2018 Maryland high school baseball playoffs got started with a bang as four-seed Whitman and five-seed Walter Johnson faced off.
In a wild, and certainly not pretty game that lasted almost three hours, the Whitman Vikings advanced to the second round with a 19-16 win over the Walter Johnson Wildcats.
“In a high school game, I’ve never seen 35 runs between two teams,” Whitman head coach Joe Cassidy said.
The two Bethesda rivals combined to score 35 runs, use eight pitchers and walk 23 batters.
It was the Wildcats that got off to a hot start off Whitman starting pitcher Bennett Solomon. WJ scored six runs in the first three innings, while allowing three to Whitman. WJ starting pitcher Kyle Petersen, one of the hardest throwers in the entire state, couldn’t find his control in the early frames, but his offense picked him up.
WJ took Petersen out of the game after his 42nd pitch, as head coach Steve Sutherland hoped to save him for the Wildcats second-round game, assuming they would hold on for the win against Whitman.
It was a strategy that worked for WJ last year as they advanced to the section final, but it didn’t work on this night.
Justin Hughes took over on the mound for WJ, and gave up the hit that would change the entire complexion of the entire game. Still down 6-3, but with the bases loaded, Justin Carboni came to the plate. Hughes left a curveball hanging to Carboni, who absolutely crushed it, launching a grand slam long over the left field wall. The Vikings exploded out of the dugout as the fans jumped to their feet. Whitman had taken a 7-6 lead.
“It was a big situation, bases loaded. I walked up there to my favorite song: ‘Party in the USA’ by Miley Cyrus…threw me a couple pitches outside. I knew if he gave me one right down the middle I was going to smack it, and I put a good swing on it,” Carboni said.
That home run was the start of the craziness that this game had. WJ scored two in the top of the fifth inning to go back ahead 8-7.
During that inning, Whitman star Tyler DeMartino was ejected for tagging a runner in the face. While the play did not appear intentional, and DeMartino as well as Cassidy said that this was the case after the game, and that even Sutherland agreed with was not intentional, the ruling was made. DeMartino was thus forced to miss the rest of this game, and Whitman’s next game as well.
Though on this night against WJ, losing DeMartino, a West Virginia baseball commit, didn’t matter.
If the dramatic lead changes of the game had been crazy before the bottom of the fifth, fans hadn’t seen anything yet.
In the bottom of the fifth, Whitman scored seven runs, jumping out to a 14-8 lead. Jack Ryan picked up three RBIs with a bases-clearing single, and Max Weinberg as well as Zach Werkman drove in a run respectively.
However, WJ came right back, responding with eight runs in the top of the sixth, an inning that included seven Wildcats being walked. WJ scored three of their eight runs in the inning via walks with the bases loaded. WJ led 16-14.
Not to be outdone, Whitman came back with five runs in the bottom of the sixth, only two of which were earned runs. Whitman scored two runs on a single passed ball, and Weinberg drove in two more with a single, Whitman led 19-16, and held on to win by that score.