For the first six and a half innings of Friday’s Mid Atlantic Conference (MAC) championship game between the No. 4 seeded Potomac School Panthers and the No. 3 seeded Sidwell Friends Quakers, Potomac dominated to tune a of 12 hits and an 8-0 lead.
However, in the bottom of the seventh inning Sidwell began to show signs of life after Potomac’s starting pitcher AJ Kuhn surrendered an RBI single to senior shortstop David Steinbach and a two-RBI double to senior outfielder Elie Goldman, narrowing the gap to 8-3.
With Goldman on second and just one out remaining in the game, Potomac head coach Eric Crozier brought in junior pitcher Johnny Read who, on his first pitch, gave up a two-run homer to junior starting pitcher and pinch hitter Aidan Monheim.
After quickly getting into a jam by putting the next two batters on base, Read stretched out to catch a shallow pop up hit by junior third baseman Chase Plebani, giving Potomac an 8-5 victory over the defending City Title champions.
“When I came in the game to pitch, I knew there was a five-run lead that I had to preserve and was just trying to close it out for AJ.” Read said. “He was pitching so well and I wanted to give him the win, so I’m glad we were able to get it done.”
Despite losing both games in the regular season to Sidwell in which they only tallied four runs while giving up 16, the Panthers immediately generated momentum on offense in Friday’s title game by jumping out to a 4-0 lead.
Following three straight scoreless innings from both sides, Potomac tacked on three more runs in the top of the fifth off of an RBI single by junior third baseman Greg Giordano and a two-run homer blasted over the fence in centerfield by junior catcher Henry O’Shea.
Potomac recorded each of its first seven runs on Monheim, who the Panthers were very familiar with going into the third matchup of the season between the two teams.
“We saw (Monheim) twice in the regular season and for the third time today. So we just had to make some adjustments,” Crozier said. “I think we were a little more patient at the plate, which helped us out a lot.”
Although the Sidwell defense saw a pitching change from Moneheim to senior Peter Bell in the top of the fifth inning, Potomac added on its eighth and final run of the game in the top of sixth as a result of an RBI single hit up the middle by the senior second baseman and captain Kevin Green.
With Friday’s win, Potomac will take a MAC championship back to McLean for the first time since 2003— a feat that junior pitcher Johnny Read believes the team would not have been able to accomplish without coach Crozier.
“It’s the best feeling ever to be a MAC Champion after all the hard work the team and especially coach Crozier put in the entire way through. We owe it all to him,” he said.
Despite receiving such praise, the former Major League Baseball player believes that it was the determination of his players that propelled them to not only defeat Sidwell Friends, but also the top-ranked Maret School in Wednesday’s semifinal game.
“Our guys have been working extremely hard this season,” Crozier said. “Throughout the year we let some games get away from us but the last two games they’ve had a never-say-die attitude and I just love it. I’m very proud of my guys.”