WCAC baseball crown comes to Olney
Taylor's relief performance lifts Good Counsel to 14-3 win over DeMatha
Members of the Good Counsel baseball team lined up to take a celebratory photograph following Wednesday's 14-3 win over DeMatha in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship game. At the back of the group, Falcons senior Jake Taylor proudly lofted the league trophy.
In the third inning of the game, Taylor lifted the Falcons on his back and carried them to their first WCAC title since 2006 at the University of Maryland's Shipley field.
After sophomore pitchers Danny Martinson and Collin McGowan struggled, allowing three runs in the first two innings, Taylor entered the game and responded with eight strikeouts in five shutout innings.
"It feels amazing," Taylor said. "I came in after that second inning and I was like, Coach [John] McGowan, put me in. I'm ready.' He was like, I know. Go warm up.' Once I got that first inning done, that second inning, I was rolling, and it felt nice."
Taylor's biggest moment came in the top of the third inning with his team holding a 6-3 lead. The Stags worked three walks around two strikeouts, bringing top hitter Kyle Riffe to the plate. Riffe, who entered the game with 11 home runs and 30 runs batted in, grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning, after a hefty swing and miss of a Taylor fastball.
"We weren't going to pitch to him even if the bases were loaded," said Coach McGowan. "I said, No. This is what we want to see. This is what everyone here wants to see what that looks like. ... Jake's a big player. He's an elevated player. He comes up big in big moments."
Good Counsel did take advantage of a bases-loaded opportunity in the bottom of the inning, scoring six runs on six walks, two hits and a groundout. Two of those walks were intentional to Taylor and Brandon Grove. Carter Bidwick drove in two runs on a single up the middle for a 12-3 lead.
The Falcons added two more runs in the bottom of the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Bidwick and a wild pitch.
The Stags struck in the top of the first inning on a two-run double to the left-center field gap by Henry Faunce. Good Counsel came back with one in the bottom half of the inning on a single to center field by Taylor.
DeMatha added a run for a 3-1 advantage in the top of the second inning on an error by Taylor at first base.
"When we go down, we don't get all that upset about it," said Falcons catcher T.J. Brockway, who went 2 for 2 with two RBI, a walk and two runs. "We've fought back before. We did it against PVI Sunday [trailing 4-0 early to Paul VI]. Once something gets going, everyone gets pumped up."
The Falcons erupted for five runs in the third inning to take a three-run lead. They tied the score in the bottom of the third on an error by starting pitcher James Kaplanges on a sacrifice bunt by Matt Kohn with Nick Trotta and George Smith on base.
Kaplanges fielded cleanly but threw wide of the bag to allow Trotta and Smith to score while Kohn reached third. A.J. Bowman then laced a double down the right field line to bring Kohn home for the team's first lead and after Taylor drew an intentional walk, Grove singled up the middle for a 5-3 lead that sent Kaplanges to the bench.
That advantage grew to 6-3 on a sacrifice fly to right field by T.J. Brockway against Stags reliever Joe Murrill.