Falcons Fly Past Stags In Championship
STORY BY: JEREMY MORELAND
COLLEGE PARK, MD - The Good Counsel athletic department couldn't have asked for a better way to cap off what was a phenomenal 2009-2010 athletic season.
Students, faculty and fans joyously watched their Falcon baseball team defeat their arch rival DeMatha 14-3 at Shipley Field on the campus of the University of Maryland for their 3rd Washington Catholic Athletic Conference baseball championship and their first since 2006.
With the almost-perennial Falcons-Stags matchup in the WCAC football championship game and the two teams dominance in a variety of sports, this has turned into one of the fiercest rivalries in the Washington D.C. area.
"We always know DeMatha is a good team and we always know it's going to be a good game when we play them," said AJ Bowman, "So we're just happy to come out on top".
Bowman, who was an integral part of the Good Counsel football team as a starting linebacker, completed his own personal sweep of the Stags with an MVP like performance in Wednesday's win (Bowman won Gameday's Best Buy player of the game award). Bowman finished two for three with three RBI and also scored two runs.
Despite outscoring their opponents by a combined total of 25-7 in their semifinal matchup and the championship game, Good Counsel faced early deficits in each game.
The Falcons spotted defending WCAC champs Paul VI four runs in the top of the first in their semifinal on Sunday. But sophomore Collin McGowan held the Panthers scoreless for over 4.1 brilliant innings of work, allowing the Falcons to stage a comeback led by Jake Taylor's two-run bomb and multi-hit performances from Bowman, George Smith Jr., Brandon Grove and Kyle Porter.
The Stags semifinal win over St. Johns was one of the more thrilling and surpising games all season. The fifth-seeded Stags weren't expected to compete with a Cadets team that only lost one game in the conference all season.
DeMatha not only competed, they jumped out to an 8-0 lead through five innings and starter Nikolay Uherek was cruising. But the Cadets made a furious rally, scoring five runs in the sixth and one in the seventh before committing the game's final out with the bases loaded.
In the much anticipated championship game (which was postponed from Monday until Wednesday because of rain), Good Counsel once again fell behind, facing deficits of 2-0 and 3-1. Falcon coach John McGowan had some serious decisions to make early on.
First he replaced starting pitcher Danny Martinson with his son Collin in the second inning, in a similar move to what he did in the semifinal. However this time the plan was a little different...McGowan only pitched an inning and was replaced by Taylor, the Falcons ace.
The emotional and charismatic leader of the Falcons took over from there, pitching the games final five innings without allowing a run and striking out eight batters. Taylor did pitch two innings in Sunday's win, but that wasn't going to stop him from finishing this one out.
After the game McGowan joked,"I told my coaching staff, I said are you guys gonna be the ones to tell Jake that we're taking him out after 89 pitches and they were like 'no we'll just leave him in'"
And judging by Taylor's hunger and spirit, it probably would've taken the entire dugout to drag him off the mound.
While Taylor was dominating on the hill, the Falcons offense was relentless, scoring 11 runs in the third and fourth innings combined. Good Counsel showed selectiveness at the plate, came up with timely hits and were extremely aggressive on the base paths, taking the extra base whenever available.
The first four batters of the Falcons lineup were nothing short of spectacular. George Smith, Matt Kohn, Bowman and Taylor all reached base in each of their first two plate appearances (3 of the 4 reached base on their third plate appearance) and scored seven of teams 14 runs.
The Stags pitching staff struggled with their command, walking eight batters in the game. But the Stags dugout and entire fan base remained energetic and hopeful throughout the game.
Unfortunately for them, Taylor and his teammates refused to give in, not even an inch. As the Falcons edged closer to victory the emotions and intensity kept pouring out of the players. And when Taylor induced a groundout to shortstop Nick Trotta for the final out of the game, the entire team stormed the field forming a dog pound near the mound.
Coach McGowan couldn't stop praising the senior class that led this team to the title.
"I will definitely be shedding tears to see these guys go," he said, "they've been a lot of fun to be with, I can't say enough great things about them."
Note: It was Good Counsel's fourth WCAC championship of the 2009-2010 season (baseball, football, girls lacrosse, volleyball).