By Matt Cohen
“This was a complete reversal of what we’ve been doing…it speaks to the resilience of this ball club and the mentality shift,” right fielder Adwyn Viera said.
Throughout the beginning of the 2018 season, the B-CC Barons baseball had struggled to finish games. Against Whitman, B-CC lost the lead, and fell behind in the bottom of the sixth inning. The offense had one more chance, it had to be the one thing it hadn’t been all season, resilient.
This time was different.
In a back and forth game, B-CC responded when they needed to most, and defeated arch-rival Whitman, 8-7.
“It’s B-CC/Whitman,” second baseman Drew Packs said, “it’s as good as it gets.”
B-CC started fast, as Jamie Mills drove in Sebastian Mieses with a double in the first inning to give B-CC a 1-0 lead, and doubled their lead in the second inning, as Viera scored on a throw to third that sailed out of play.
In the bottom of the third, Whitman’s Justin Carboni launched a ball off of the wall in left, and raced around for a two-RBI triple, tying the game.
In the top of the fourth inning, B-CC responded immediately. Austin Taylor crushed a home run, easily clearing the wall in left field, putting B-CC back on top 3-2.
The game continued to swing back and forth. Whitman would tie the game at three, before B-CC took the lead back at 4-3.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Whitman loaded the bases with no outs, and capitalized. The Vikings tied the game at four on a ground ball to Zach Alfonso, who lost a foot race to tag third base. On the next batter, Whitman took the lead, as Whitman just beat out a throw to second base. Heading to the top of the seventh, Whitman led 5-4, their first lead of the game, and were three outs away from sealing a win.
B-CC teams of games past had folded in similar situations. The Barons had given up leads time after time this season. Bullis had a similar situation against the Barons, pulling ahead in the top of the seventh, and the Barons were unable to respond. B-CC blew an 11-2 lead against Paint Branch, and lost 14-13. B-CC had a players meeting after the Paint Branch game, where they talked about their inability to finish games, and the mentality that they needed to respond.
Whatever they said in that meeting, it worked.
A week after the players meeting, Adwyn Viera stood at the plate with the bases loaded and no outs. His team was trailing 5-4 to Whitman. Viera chopped a curveball just barely foul down the third base line, leaving him with a 2-2 count. “He threw me a fastball, middle in, thigh high. My whole approach this season from what I’ve changed since last year is just not thinking, just reacting to the pitch. That’s what I did there. I got my hands out in front, and luckily put it in a place where they weren’t,” Viera said.
Viera crushed the 2-2 fastball to left-center field. The ball rolled to the wall, and Viera flew around the bases. The Barons right fielder dove into third base, got up, and emphatically pumped his fist, looking back at his dugout. Viera had cleared the bases on his triple, putting B-CC in front, 7-5.
The Barons had responded. The Barons had been resilient.
“That’s as big of a response as you can get,” head coach John Schmidt said.
On the first pitch of the next at bat, Zach Alfonso laid down a perfect bunt, and Viera came in to score on the suicide squeeze play. What would prove to be an important insurance run put B-CC ahead 8-5 in the top of the seventh.
Heading to the bottom of the seventh, B-CC sent John Narvaiz to the hill. Narvaiz struggled to hit the strike zone, allowed a home run to Justin Carboni to cut the deficit to 8-6, and Schmidt pulled him from the game. Schmidt went to Will Philpott, who also couldn’t find his command. Schmidt then turned to Drew Packs, who hadn’t thrown a single pitch in a game this season, with runners on first and second and no outs in the bottom of the seventh.
“I knew he was going to throw strikes…He throws about 60 miles per hour, but I know where it’s going, and it’s going to be a strike,” Schmidt said.
Whitman cut the deficit to one with a sacrifice fly off of Packs, and the tying run got to third. However, the experienced senior never panicked, and kept throwing strikes. Packs was able to induce weak contact, and pulled the Barons back as they began to fall apart. Packs got the save, sealing a roller coaster win for B-CC.
Putting Packs in wasn’t something that had been planned on, but something Packs was ready for. “I was like ‘Let’s go,'” Packs said of being given the ball. “I know I can go out there and throw strikes no matter what the situation is. I actually felt strangely confident going into game.”
It wasn’t easy on the nerves, Viera even said his legs were shaking in right field during the seventh inning, but B-CC escaped. They played all 21 outs, and responded in a way they hadn’t done in previous games. The 8-7 victory gave B-CC its fourth win in a row, and improved their record to 8-5. Now with wins over Whitman, Walter Johnson and Einstein, B-CC is in firm control of the 4A South division.
“It’s gutsy man,” Schmidt said. “It just takes guts…You know what you’re going to get from our guys.”