Thunderstorm Can't Dampen Northwest’s Thrilling Comeback to Win Regional Championship
After trailing Blair by two runs for most of Friday’s 4A West Regional Final game, the Jaguars baseball team had Blair right where they wanted them. The Jags had men on second and third bases, one out, and momentum on their side in the bottom of the 7th inning. The Jags were poised for a walk-off win — and it all came to a crashing, wet and wild stop as a severe thunderstorm rolled through the Germantown area.
The umpires called a halt to the game as the storm bared down Northwest High School. As players huddled in the dugouts, spectators sprinted for their cars, and a small group parents huddled under portable canopies (set up to provide shade on the 94-degree day), the skies opened up, and the rain poured down on the field. After 10 minutes the continuation of the game became doubtful. After 20 minutes, the base paths became canals, and the in-field became Mudville. After 30 minutes, there was no joy in Mudville as everyone knew the game would not continue, and the Jags would not complete their comeback Friday night as the storm dropped 1.34 inches of rain on Germantown.
Before the rains came, the game had been a nail-biter, scoreless through the first three innings, until Blair scored two in the top of the fourth. The Jags’ starter senior Zach Greber was solid, retiring all but two batters over the first three innings.
But in the fourth inning, Blair’s junior Zach Dunne knocked a base hit up the middle to become the Blazers third baserunner of the game. Dunne would score three batters later when senior Sam Strongin would reach first on an error. The next batter, a senior Johnny Pictanza, worked a two-out walk to advance Strongin, who would score on a base hit to left by Blair’s senior first-baseman Rafa Kanner. Greber ended the inning by getting Scott Gahart to fly out to centerfielder Josh Netterville.
After allowing a base hit to the first Blazer batter in the fifth inning, Greber got the next three, in order, to end the fifth inning.
In the top of the sixth, Northwest made a pitching change sent senior Dean Edmundson to the mound. The first batter, Henry Wiebe, would reach first base on a throwing error. Wiebe would be thrown out attempting to steal second by Northwest’s junior catcher Dylan Jaeger. The next batter, Strongin, would reach on single to center and then steal second. Pictanza would again, work another walk to give the Blazers men at first and second with just one out.
Edmundson and the Jags would end the inning on the first pitch to Kanner, who hit a ground ball to senior shortstop Griffin Bubb, who flipped it to junior second baseman Jon Hartig for the force out at second. Hartig threw it to Michael Yuille at first base for the 6-4-3 inning ending double-play.
Blair’s junior pitcher Sebastien Kraft held the Jaguars scoreless through six innings. Jags had managed just one hit against Kraft. Kraft retired 18 Jags, with two strikeouts through the six innings he worked. Northwest managed to get base runners in the six innings as Kraft walked six batters, and two others reached fielding errors, but could not get runners to the plate
Blair made a pitching change for the bottom half of the seventh, and senior Ben Yokoyama took the mound in hopes of shutting the Jags down and getting the save. He got the first out when senior Jalen Magbie-Hunter hit a ground ball back to the pitcher. The next batter, Netterville walked on five pitches. That brought Mac Adelman to the plate, who put the second pitch from Yokayama through the gap to left-center for a base hit. The ball was overthrown from the outfield, which sent Netterville to third and Adelman to second.
The Jags had the tying run at in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh inning —the rains came, and everything froze that way for 23 hours.
The following day, both teams reconvened in Germantown at 5:00 pm. Netterville and Adelman went to their bases, and senior Ryan Kennington came to the plate.
Kennington took and 2-1 pitch from Yokoyama to deep right-center field, scoring Netterville and Adelman to tie the game at 2-2. Kennington would make it to third on throwing errors.
With a man on third and one out, Blair opted to load the bases, giving the next two Jaguars batters, Yuille and Nick Phelps intentional walks. Instead, the Blazers chose to pitch to Edmundson. The senior pitcher, who hadn’t seen any action since pitching in the top-half of the seventh inning the day before came to the plate. He bit on a 2-1 offering and hit it to center field where Wiebe caught it, but Edmundson hit it deep enough to allow Kennington to tag-up from third and score the game-winning run. Edmundson hit the walk-off RBI and was credited as the winning pitcher in the 4A West Regional Championship game.
The win propels the 17-4 Jags to the Maryland 4A State Semi-finals on Tuesday, where they will face the Pirates from Eleanor Roosevelt High School at Shirley Povich Field in Bethesda at 4:00 pm. Roosevelt is coming off of a 7-3 victory over Laurel on Friday. The Pirates also defeated Wise, 7-6, and Bowie, 11-8, in route to the State Semi-final game.
With a win on Tuesday, Northwest will play for the State Championship at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen on Friday, at 7:30 pm against the winner of Severna Park and Howard who play in Bethesda at 7:00 pm on Tuesday.
Top: Northwest’s Dean Edmundson (10) pitches in the sixth inning of a thrilling come from behind victory for the Jaguars to win the 4A West Regional Final game.
Next: There was no joy in Mudville as the game was halted due to rain in the bottom of the seventh inning on Friday night, to be picked up the following afternoon.
Next: Northwest’s starter, senior Zach Greber was solid, retiring all but two batters over the first three innings and giving up just two runs over five innings.
Next: Early on Blair’s junior pitcher Sebastien Kraft (19) held the Jaguars scoreless through six innings.
Next: Northwest shortstop Griffin Bubb (7) put the tag on Blair’s Henry Wiebe as he was attempting to steal second base in the sixth inning.
Next: In the sixth inning, the Jags turned an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. Bubb (7)dove to knock down a ball hit by Rafa Kanner and threw to second base for the first out.
Next: Second basemen Jon Hartig (19) made the catch to get Pictanza out for the first out of the double play.
Next: First baseman Michael Yuille (28) made the catch to get Kanner at first to end the inning.
Next: Senior Ryan Kennington would knock in two runs to tie the game on Saturday after play resumed.
Video: Northwest’s Dean Edmundson hits a deep fly ball to center field. Kennington tags from third for the walk-off game winning run. Video courtesy Northwest principal Jimmy D’Andrea.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.
All of the photos in this post, as well as hundreds of others from this game, are available to view and purchase right now at the Germantown Pulse Sports Photo Shop.