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McLean Baseball Enjoys Winning Spring Break Week

Highlanders finish a strong fourth in 12-team tournament field.

The McLean High baseball team had a successful spring break week at the `Let’s Play Two Invitational,’ co-hosted by Osbourn Park (Manassas) and Woodbridge High Schools.

Twelve teams participated in the tournament, and McLean won three of its four games overall to finish fourth overall.

The Highlanders’ three wins came over Notre Dame Academy (Middleburg), 4-3, Freedom High of Woodbridge, 18-3 and Mount Vernon High, 11-3.

The loss came to Woodbridge, 11-3, in the semifinals game for third place.

Against Notre Dame Academy, McLean was going up against Virginia’s 2007 state private school champion. McLean coach John Thomas was impressed with Notre Dame’s pitcher-catcher battery. But the Highlanders were able to do enough to score four times and gain the win.

"They definitely threw a very good pitcher at us," said Thomas. "And they seemed to be a pretty good hitting team."

McLean, in the win over Notre Dame, received a stellar starting pitching outing from senior Quinn Pippin, who allowed three runs (1 earned) over 6-1/3 innings of work. Reliever Denis Buckley, who worked out of a bases-loaded scenario in the seventh inning, got the game’s final two outs to earn the save.

Coach Thomas was pleased with Pippins’ starting outing.

" I’m very impressed with Quinn’s poise on the mound and the way he’s going after guys," said Thomas. "He’s not bashful at all."

Offensively, McLean put together eight hits in the win. Buckley had two of those base hits. One of the Highlanders’ offensive highlights occurred when Erik Payne stole home base for a run.

IN MCLEAN’S WIN over Freedom, Buckley was the winning pitcher for the Highlanders. In the shortened, six inning game, Buckley tossed four innings in the starting outing to garner the decision.

Pippin was McLean’s winning pitcher in the win over Mount Vernon, a shortened five-inning affair. Pippin threw three innings and struck out two in the outing for his second win of the tournament.

McLean also received good starting pitching in its semis loss to Woodbridge as sophomore right hander Sean Fitzgerald, who took the loss, allowed three runs while striking out seven over five innings of work.

"Woodbridge did a nice job and their hitters had a real nice approach," said Thomas.

McLean’s first three games of the tournament took place at Woodbridge High School. It’s last game, the semifinals versus Woodbridge, was played at Osbourn Park.

McLean’s top hitters at the tournament were Payne (6-for-10), Fitzgerald (5-for-14), Buckley (4-for-10) and leadoff hitter Riley Beiro, who scored six runs over the four games and stole seven bases.

Defensively, Beiro, a center fielder, came up with the biggest highlight play of the week when he made a fully extended, diving catch on a ball hit into left center field in the fourth inning of the game against Notre Dame Academy. McLean was up 2-0 at the time.

"It was a great catch," said Thomas. "He probably saved a run and got us out of the inning."

Two McLean players, Pippin and Payne, made the all-tournament team.

Thomas was pleased with his team’s overall play at the tournament.

"I think we did a lot of things well," said the coach. "We showed some good improvement offensively from our scrimmages. Pitching wise and defensively, we’re in pretty good shape. We’ve just got to score runs against [Liberty District opponents] like Madison, Stone Bridge and Langley."

McLean was scheduled to open its home schedule this week with a non-district game against Yorktown.