For the Langley High baseball team, it might be best to simply put last Friday night’s 10-0 Liberty District home loss to Madison behind and out of mind.
On the diamond, it was one bad night for the Saxons, who were playing in front of a large, enthusiastic home crowd. But the Saxons were going up against Madison, one of the Northern Region’s elite teams over the years.
The evening’s highlight moment for Langley came before the game when Langley High senior Nick Cafferky, who was severely injured while diving into a wave at Dewey Beach last summer, threw out the game’s first pitch (see related story). Cafferky, in a wheel chair, tossed his first pitch to the delight of the crowd, which applauded the youngster for his courage and hard rehabilitation work over the months.
The ensuing ball game, however, was a bit of a downer, although it hardly spoiled the pre-game tribute to Cafferky.
<b>MADISON</b> (7-3 overall, 4-1 district) scored four runs in the top of the first inning to take early control of the game. The Warhawks added a run in the second and two more in the third to go ahead 7-0. Ultimately, after a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth, Madison won by the 10-run mercy rule in six innings.
"We didn’t play very well," said Langley coach Jeff Ferrell, whose team was playing its third game of the week.
Langley, who earlier in the week had beaten Marshall before falling to Woodson, saw its record slip to 6-4 overall and 3-2 in the district. The Saxons managed just two hits on the night off Madison starter Jesse Jeter (6 shutout innings, 13 K’s, 3 walks), who earned the win.
"Jesse has been our guy all year," said Madison coach Mark Gjormand. "And I thought our fast start was huge. We put it all together tonight."
Langley’s two base hits both came from junior catcher Geremy Mahn, who smacked a hard-hit infield single in the first inning and, in the third, grounded sharply down the left field line for another single.
"We had two hits by the same person," said Ferrell. "Jeter threw very well."
For Langley, southpaw and No. 1 pitcher Joey Zarella (2-plus innings) had a rough outing in taking the loss. Madison’s first three batters of the game, Kyle McIntyre, Casey Turner and Brig Tison, reached by single, bunt single and walk, respectively, to load the bases in the first inning. Two batters later, Madison catcher Alex Jacquez pulled a line drive double down the left field line to plate all three base runners and make it 3-0 Warhawks. Later in the inning, Ricardo Perez grounded an RBI single into right field to make it 4-0.
Just like that, before the evening had hardly gotten started, the Warhawks were off and running.
"Joey didn’t have very good stuff tonight," said Ferrell.
<b>GJORMAND</b> knew his team would need to work good at-bats to beat Zarella. And Madison did just that.
"He’s really good," said Gjormand. "I thought he was up [in the strike zone] tonight. But you have to battle to beat him."
Langley relief pitchers Pete White (2 innings, 1 run) and Vishal Hathitamani (2 innings, 2 runs) did their best trying to slow down the hot Madison bats.
The Warhawks smacked 15 hits on the night. Particularly big nights came from Perez (3 hits, including a double), Jacquez (2 doubles) and clean-up hitter Colin Flaherty, who sent a towering shot well over the center field fence for a sixth inning, two-run homer. Also for the Warhawks, McIntyre (2 hits), Turner (2 hits), Tison (double, 2 walks) and Andrew Shrock (2 hits) had good nights at the plate.
One of the game’s defensive highlights for Langley came in the bottom of the first inning when Saxon center fielder Daniel Bergamesca closed the inning by throwing out a base runner heading for third following a Jeter ground ball single.
Gjormand, whose team had no errors in the field against Langley, believes his team will continue to improve as the spring moves onward.
"I just think this group is going to get better and better," said the coach. "We were really good on defense tonight and the bats set the tone."
For the Saxons, it was a game best to put behind and move on.
"It was a tough game," said Saxon right fielder Graham Dubow, who walked in the sixth inning. "Jeter had his game tonight and was definitely hitting his spots. It was an off night for us."