By Matt Cohen
Photo by Mike Clark of the Montgomery Sentinel
Slow starts aren’t anything new for the B-CC baseball team under head coach John Schmidt. Year after year, the Barons don’t come out of the gate strong, and 2018 has been no different.
B-CC lost to Blair 15-6 in a game that Schmidt called simply, “a mess.” The Barons then blew a lead against Bullis, and allowed the go-ahead home run to the Bulldogs in the top of the seventh inning, and ultimately lost the game 4-3.
“Right now, we are mentally weak,” Schmidt said. “As soon as something bad happens, we don’t have the mentality or the guts to say ‘Hey, I want to be the guy to shut this down.’ Mills is the closest thing we’ve got to a stopper right now.”
B-CC faced the 1-4 Churchill Bulldogs in a critical early season game, a game where Mills was needed to be the stopper again.
Again, he pulled through.
B-CC broke out of its two game slide against Churchill behind an early offensive explosion, and a strong relief performance from Mills, winning by a 12-9 score.
After Churchill took advantage of a B-CC error in the top of the first inning to score a run, the Barons quickly responded in the bottom of the inning. All-State centerfielder Sebastian Mieses led off the inning with a double, one-hopping the right field wall. He stole third, and as the throw down bounced into left field, Mieses got home, and sprinted home to tie the game.
The Barons rally continued to roll, as Nils Townsend drove in Drew Packs and Jamie Mills to put B-CC ahead 3-1, and Zach Alfonso picked up two RBIs of his own in the first inning, upping the lead to 5-1.
B-CC batted around in the first inning, and the offense stayed hot in the second. Jed Alterman and Adwyn Viera each drove in a run by walking with the bases loaded, and Alfonso added two more RBIs. Mieses and Mills also recorded RBI singles in the inning, and the B-CC lead ballooned to 12-1.
“We can’t afford to get comfortable, we have to keep the pedal to the metal,” Schmidt said.
However, with a big lead, the Barons got comfortable.
Barons ace James Springer started the game, and after four strikeouts in the first two innings, including a 1-2-3 top of the second, he walked four straight Churchill batters, bringing in a run.
Springer was pulled from the game, and the bases remained loaded. The spark for the Churchill comeback had been lit.
Nils Townsend came in, and allowed a bases clearing double. The Bulldogs continued to rally, scoring a total of seven runs in the inning.
Townsend continued to struggle in the top of the fourth inning, quickly loading up the bases. All the while, the B-CC bats had gone stone cold. The Churchill bullpen had completely stymied the Barons.
With the bases loaded and one out in the fourth inning, Schmidt turned to Mills. Mills had been put into exactly that situation against Poolesville just a week ago, and he was asked to get out of the same jam.
It took him one pitch.
Mills forced a double play ball on the first pitch he threw, with the go-ahead run at the plate, and got the Barons back in the dugout.
“Thank goodness for Jamie Mills,” Schmidt said.
Mills pitched three and two thirds innings of relief, allowing just one hit. It was another stellar relief performance from the senior captain.
The B-CC bats stayed silent, but Mills did enough for the team on the mound, slamming the door on the Churchill comeback, and getting the win for the Barons, 12-9.
“It’s very important, especially coming off our last two games,” Schmidt said of the win. “Coming back, divisional game, rival, it’s always good to beat them. Our senior leadership stepped up big…and stuffed any chance they had.”
It wasn’t pretty, but B-CC got an important win to halt a downward spiral. The Barons pitching staff issued seven walks. Top starting pitcher James Springer only went two innings, he hasn’t gone beyond four and one third innings this season. Pitching was projected to be the strength of the Barons, but that has not been the case consistently. Without Mills slamming the door with three and two thirds innings of relief, B-CC’s win streak may have extended to three.
Austin Taylor rebounded in a big way in the field. Taylor struggled mightily in the field against Blair, but turned in two huge double plays against Churchill, including when Mills came into the game with the bases loaded.
Four Barons had two hits in the win over Churchill: Mieses, Alfonso, Taylor and Packs. Alfonso led the team with four RBIs, Townsend and Mieses each had two, and Mills, Viera and Alterman each had one.
Even though the offense put up 12 runs, it continues to be inconsistent. The offense disappeared after the second inning of this game. Only three Barons are hitting above three hundred: Packs (.389), Mieses (.346) and Mills (.321).
B-CC was able to escape with a win, and get back on track, but the team still hasn’t put it together yet. The Barons have entered an easier part of the schedule, a four game stretch (including Churchill) where the Barons can gain a rhythm.
B-CC improved to 4-4 with the win, and their next game will be against Paint Branch on Thursday.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was enough, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.