As rain poured down on Greenbrier Park, Yorktown’s Red Dowdell stood near the third-base dugout with a rake in his hand, eager to do what he could to keep the Patriots’ season alive. Other players carried bags of drying agent to the field, ready for action to resume.
The Yorktown baseball team trailed Fairfax during a rain delay in the sixth inning of a regional playoff game on May 28. As the basepaths turned into mud baths, the Patriots were uneasy about the fate of their 2010 season.
"We didn’t know if they would suspend the game or drop the game dead right then," senior Dean Johnson said. "Then when we realized they’d drop the game dead we really wanted to work on the field."
Yorktown trailed 5-0 early but battled to within one. The Patriots trailed 6-4 at the time of the rain delay but had proven capable of a comeback. It didn’t matter.
Rain continued fall and since five innings were complete, the outcome was ruled official. The Patriots’ season was over.
Andrew D’Addario was leading off the bottom of the sixth for Yorktown when the rain delay started. An hour later, the senior paced around in left field, pondering how his high school career ended two innings too soon.
"The momentum was turned our way," he said. "We thought that we were going to get some more runs. We started seeing the pitcher a little better. It’s really bad to lose when you can’t really control it. You want to go down swinging."
On May 24, Yorktown experienced the high of beating Washington-Lee for the National District championship. Four days later, the Patriots were left with a feeling of unfinished business.
FOR JOHNSON, the district Pitcher of the Year and a two-time first-team all-district selection, the loss ended on a particularly sour note. After giving up five runs in two-plus innings of work, the left-hander settled down and retired nine straight Fairfax batters. In the sixth, the Rebels added a run when senior Daniel Fernandes scored on a wild pitch. On the play, Johnson raced from the mound to cover the plate, caught the throw from catcher Mike Ryan and applied the tag. The home plate umpire ruled Fernandes safe and an animated Johnson showed he disagreed with the call.
The play added to Johnson’s frustration of the game being cut short due to inclement weather.
"We feel a little robbed," Johnson said. "We feel like if we had played that game out — we were mounting a big comeback — I definitely think we could have pulled it out. We’re not happy how the season ended. We’re happy we won the district championship. That’s what we wanted to set out to do — prove to everyone we still had it.
"It sucks that this is our last memory. Our last game, we’re coming back, had a lot of momentum and then a very bad call at the plate. That’s my last play, you know?"
Fairfax led 2-0 when Tyler Lescure and Joseph Vanderplas hit back-to-back home runs in the third inning to give the Rebels a 5-0 advantage.
Offensively, Yorktown struggled against Vanderplas, a first-team All-Liberty District pitcher. The left-hander topped out at 88 mph in the first inning, and threw in the low-to-mid 80s for most of the game.
"This season," Dowdell, said, "we haven’t seen anyone who threw that hard."
After four of the first six Patriot batters struck out against Vanderplas, Yorktown got on the board in the third when the team’s first hit — a single by Nick Cantow — drove in a run. The Patriots scored a run in the fourth when James Overbeek’s single drove in Chris Kyser, who doubled in the previous at bat.
Yorktown pushed across two runs in the fifth, including an RBI double by Dowdell, but stranded runners on second and third.
YORKTOWN COACH Mike Ruck said he knew the Patriots were capable of coming back.
"That didn’t surprise me one bit," he said. "This team started off with a lot of guys with not a lot of experience. Every day they got better. They have so much confidence in themselves right now."
Yorktown junior Shaun Wood (designated hitter) and sophomore Dowdell (utility) were named to the All-National District first team along with Johnson.
Wood hit .521 with four home runs and 28 RBIs. Dowdell hit .366 with one home run and 18 RBIs. Johnson went 7-5 with a 2.54 ERA.