Washington-Lee left-hander Tom Edwards had located his pitches well to this point, walking none while allowing only one unearned run. But this particular third-inning delivery got away from the Generals ace, who sailed the ball up and in to Edison’s Thomas Baird.
Baird ducked, attempting to avoid the pitch, but the ball plunked his bat and rolled foul for strike two. While it wasn’t how he planned it, a smiling Edwards said, "I’ll take it." On the next pitch, Baird flied out to left to end the inning.
April 30 was that kind of a night for W-L, which took advantage of opportunities and made the plays it needed to.
It started in the top of the first inning. A perfectly executed hit-and-run turned a harmless ground ball off the bat of W-L catcher Ryan Dickt into a base hit, setting up a pair of runs. In the bottom half, Dickt struggled to locate a dropped third strike, allowing Edison’s Nick Ammeen to reach first and possibly more. But Dickt eventually found the ball and came up firing, hosing Ammeen at second to end the inning.
Include a strong outing by Edwards and another big offensive day from hot-hitting W-L and the Generals beat the Eagles 11-3 at Edison. The win helped keep W-L atop the National District standings at 10-1.
"I had trouble finishing a little bit, which led to a lot of pitches," said Edwards, who threw 75 in five innings. "I bore down, the team made plays behind me, that’s all I had to do."
Edwards picked up the victory, allowing one unearned run and two hits over five innings. The senior walked three, struck out four and lowered his season ERA to 4.88. He was the staff ace as a junior, earning first-team all-district honors. But there was a time before the 2010 season Edwards wasn’t sure if he would be able to pitch.
Edwards is a three-sport athlete at Washington-Lee. During football season, he partially dislocated his throwing shoulder at practice.
"The second it happened it felt like it popped," he said. "I didn’t do anything else for the rest of practice. I went and iced it. I went home and I was looking in the mirror and doing my pitching motion and immediately felt a tweak, it felt like it was moving around a lot. I didn’t do anything for about four days."
Edwards did rehab work with bands to help his shoulder. He experienced pain when he first started throwing before baseball season, but continued to push forward. During a preseason scrimmage, Edwards said he knew he was ready when he "cut loose" with a throw from center field and was pain free. He pitched for the first time on March 30 against Woodson.
On April 30, Edwards threw 45 of 75 pitches for strikes and delivered a first-pitch strike to 14 of 22 batters faced. He threw a lot of change ups early, but said his two-seam fastball and curveball were working well.
"He gets a little bit emotional at times," W-L head coach Doug Grove said. "No one is more of a competitor in this league than him. Sometimes that gets to him and he gets a little off focus. But he’s got pretty good stuff, [he is a] left-handed guy and he throws kind of hard (low-80 mph range)."
The Generals’ high-powered offense continued rolling, as well. W-L is hitting .380 with five regulars batting .400 or better, and nine regulars hitting .320 or better.
"We’re fairly comfortable all the way through the lineup," Grove said. "We’ve been pretty good offensively. Going into tonight our team batting average was .383 on the season, which is about 100 points higher than anything I’ve ever come close to in 16 years of [coaching at W-L]. These guys have hit 1 through 9."
Grove points to the experience in his lineup as to why W-L has hit so well this year. Seniors Tim Edwards (.277, 2 HR, 15 RBIs), Tom Edwards (.375, HR, 8 RBIs) Christian McGillen (.367, 14 RBIs), Robbie Burgess (.379, 8 RBIs) and Karl Lendenmann (.386, 2 HR, 14 RBIs) have each been on varsity three years. Senior Jeremy Seipp is hitting .460 with 22 RBIs and junior Brett Coffman, who Grove said has a chance to be the district player of the year, is hitting .431 with four home runs and 27 RBIs.
"We’re just thrilled to death about our offensive approach," Grove said. We’re scoring a lot of runs."
Charlie Vitale is hitting .438, Austin Evans is batting .425 and Dickt is hitting .320.
On April 30, Coffman got W-L started with a two-run single in the first. Vitale added an RBI single in the fifth.