When senior pitcher Danny Peterson entered Friday night’s baseball game between West Potomac and T.C. Williams in relief at the top of the fifth, it seemed he was brought from the heavens to provide some normalcy to a contest that had been anything but.
Turns out the tall righthander only added more quirks to a riveting, yet sloppy contest in which the Wolverines prevailed, 8-7, to take control of fourth place in the Patriot District.
Peterson had just entered the game in support of starting pitcher Art Genaurio in the top half of the frame, promptly forcing the Titan bats to succumb to their first 1-2-3 inning of the game. In the process, he calmed the game down a bit after the two teams had already combined for seven unearned runs. Once Peterson stepped up in the batter’s box to lead off the bottom half, though, was when things got even stranger.
Peterson got on base thanks to a throwing error by T.C. Williams shortstop Trav Clark, advanced to second on a single by second baseman Casey Hagen, and stole third with leadoff hitter Genaurio up to bat.
Then, as Genaurio was saddled with a 2-2 count, Titan pitcher Alex Goldfarb threw a perfect curveball in the dirt that Genaurio flailed at for what appeared to be a strikeout. But T.C. Williams catcher Robert Mannel dropped the ball, meaning Genaurio had the opportunity to beat a throw to first base that would seal the out.
Mannel’s throw beat the runner, but as soon as it had been released, Peterson had begun a mad dash towards home plate.
“I was planning on running the whole time,” said a smiling Peterson after just barely sliding in safely for what would turn out to be the deciding run of the game. “I had to get there.”
That the run held up over two more T.C. at bats is even more credit to Peterson. After the Titans piled up seven runs on six hits through four innings, Peterson ended any thought of a come-from-behind rally, allowing just one baserunner and throwing two strikeouts in three innings of work.
<b>JUDGING FROM THE SWINGS</b> taken in the West Potomac batter’s box, there’s no way the Wolverines should have even been close in this game. But that’s the joy of baseball, meek ground balls can turn into momentum-turning events with the right amount of hustle.
Averaging just over four runs per game this season, West Potomac (5-6) is well aware of its limitations at the plate, so when T.C. Williams started booting the ball around in the field on its way to nine errors, the Wolverines took advantage.
All but two of their seven runs were of the unearned variety.
“We capitalize on errors,” said cleanup hitter Matt Harperee, who scored the game’s tying run in the bottom of the fourth inning after Clark dropped a sharp line drive from center fielder Christian Roesler. “The coaches have been harping on us about baserunning. That’s the No. 1 thing … because we’re not a bomb squad hitting team.”
The formula has also included strong pitching. While Peterson stole the show last Friday, it was Genaurio who pitched a complete game shutout to close out West Potomac’s spring break tournament against Washington-Lee.
,b>THE WIN</b> eliminated a nasty taste from the mouths of many on West Potomac. The game prior to that gem against W-L, the Wolverines lost 11-4 to a South Lakes team that hadn’t yet won a game this season. Coach Jim Sullivan wrote that result up on the dry erase board in the Wolverines’ dugout as motivation for the stretch run of this baseball season.
It served them well Friday. West Potomac and T.C. Williams had been battling it out for fourth place in the Patriot District since neither has proven capable of beating the conference’s elites like South County, Lake Braddock, and West Springfield. The Wolverines get another shot at that threesome this coming week, with games scheduled against all of them.
But the fourth spot is just as coveted since the top four from each district move onto the regional tournament. The Titans finished in fourth last year, one slot ahead of West Potomac.
“Last year, they took us out,” said Harperee. “So we had to come back strong. The key, though, was our pitching staff. Danny came in and shut the door.”