Mount Vernon thumped its rival before twice trying to overcome a deficit. West Potomac was on the wrong end of a lopsided score, but bounced back with a stellar pitching performance. It was an interesting spring break for both teams during the Alexandria City Championship baseball tournament.
After inclement weather delayed the start of the tourney, Mount Vernon got rolling with a 10-0, six-inning victory over West Potomac on March 31.
West Potomac catcher David Burns said the Wolverines entered the game assuming they would beat Mount Vernon due to results against a common opponent. West Potomac opened its season with a 14-0, five-inning victory over Stonewall Jackson on March 19. Three days earlier, Mount Vernon lost a nine-inning battle with Stonewall Jackson, 5-1.
Against Mount Vernon "we thought we were going to walk all over them because we beat Stonewall and they got beat by Stonewall," Burns said. "It was just, ‘Look at this, they did this, we did this, we can beat them.’"
Instead, the Majors jumped out with five runs in the third and never looked back.
The following day, Mount Vernon split a doubleheader against Bishop Ireton and Episcopal. In the opener against Ireton, the Majors fell behind 5-0 when pitcher Jimmy Woehrle gave up a grand slam. Woehrle responded with a 3-run home run of his own shortly after. The Majors followed suit and came back to win 10-8.
"We battled back," Sable said. "We had some big hits."
Following the win, Mount Vernon took on Episcopal. The Majors tied the game at 3 in the bottom of the fourth inning on a bases-loaded walk by Collin Bowyer, but fell behind 7-3 in the top of the fourth when they committed three errors.
Mount Vernon continued to fight, however, cutting the lead to 7-5 in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI single by Justin Boutin and an Episcopal error. The Majors loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the seventh but managed only one run and lost 7-6.
"The kids were coming off a big win and it was an emotional letdown for them," Sable said. "They battled back but they just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed it."
Boutin, who led off the bottom of the seventh, pitched for the Majors and received praise from Sable.
WHILE MOUNT VERNON flattened West Potomac early, the Wolverines responded quickly. On April 1, West Potomac beat St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes 10-0 in five innings, led by a stellar pitching performance by Jayme Murray.
Making his first varsity start, the freshman left-hander struck out 10 Saints while tossing a two-hit shutout. Murray threw 55 of 84 pitches for strikes (65 percent) and delivered a first-pitch strike to 10 of the 18 batters he faced.
West Potomac head coach Jim Sullivan called the team’s performance "night and day" compared to how the Wolverines played against Mount Vernon, thanks primarily to Murray.
"We got a great pitching effort from Jayme and that fired the guys up," Sullivan said. "I think he set the tone with the pitching and got them excited. Good play can be contagious, as can bad play. We’re familiar with both of those.
"Just about everything seemed to be working [for Murray]. He does a tremendous job of keeping the ball down. He got one ball up that they hit to the fence … but other than that, most all of his strikes were right on the knees."
Murray allowed a triple off the center-field fence to Josh Smith in the first inning and a single to Jason Jamula in the fourth. He walked one batter and retired 15 of 18 batters faced.
Murray said he placed his fastball well and the Saints were swinging at his curveball. The freshman added time spent playing with his teammates during the offseason eased the shock of playing varsity as a freshman.
"I played varsity in the summer, so I was used to it," he said. "That definitely prepared me well. [There weren’t] a lot of surprises."
Does he feel he belongs at the varsity level?
"Absolutely," he said. "I feel like part of the family."
Burns and Todd Ferri had two hits and an RBI each against the Saints. Murray had one hit and two RBIs.
West Potomac closed the tournament with a 3-1 loss to Hayfield on April 2 and a 4-2 loss to Bishop Ireton on April 3.
Mount Vernon beat Yorktown 10-4 on April 6 in a rematch of last year's National District title game, which was won by Yorktown.
Mount Vernon travels to face Hayfield at 7 p.m. April 9. West Potomac hosts Lee at 6:30 p.m. April 9.