Outstanding pitching has led the way thus far for the Langley High baseball team, which is looking to improve on last year's 8-12 overall record. The Saxons, going into this week, carried an impressive 3-1 record.
"I think we're pitching very well so far," said Langley third year head coach Kevin Healy. "We've had two shutouts, a no hitter, and another game with only one run allowed."
In its most recent outing, Langley shut down perennial power Madison, 2-0, in a Liberty District home game played last Friday, March 25. Langley starting pitcher Andrew Pechstein, a junior, threw five shutout innings, allowing five base hits and striking out four to earn his second win of the young spring season. The Saxons received excellent relief pitching out of the bullpen from senior Robert Hood, who fanned three hitters in two perfect innings of work to notch the save.
LANGLEY'S OFFENSE in the win over the Warhawks was led by junior Colin Cantwell, who opened the game's scoring in the bottom of the third inning with an opposite field home run - his second of the season - over the right field fence, and junior Matt Moser, who had two hits and an RBI on the night.
Langley, a few weeks ago, opened the new season at its two-day Langley/McLean Invitational. There, the Saxons defeated Potomac High, 10-1, on March 17, before winning over Washington-Lee, 3-0, the following day.
Pechstein, the Langley starter in the season-opener win over the Panthers of Potomac High, struck out five batters over six innings of work to earn the decision and lead the Saxons, playing on their home field, to their first victory of the 2011 season. Cantwell boosted the Langley offense by belting a three-run home run in the fifth inning. Other strong games at the plate came from Hood and Moser, who both had two hits. Both also had multi-RBI games, as did teammate Michael Byrne, a junior.
IN THE FOLLOWING DAY'S shutout win over the Generals of W-L, Langley pitchers Hood and Jon O'Connor, a junior, combined for a no-hitter. Hood, making the start, struck out 10 batters and walked six in six innings of work. O'Connor, in pitching the seventh, struck out two and earned the save. Moser's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth inning broke a scoreless tie. Daniel Richardson, who was pinch-running, scored from third base on the sac fly ball. Richardson, a junior, was running for sophomore Cal Jacacki, who had singled up the middle earlier in the inning. Langley received a strong game at the plate in the win from senior shortstop JJ Oleniacz, who had a pair of hits and an RBI.
Langley opened its district schedule on March 22 with a game at South Lakes in Reston. There, the Saxons lost their first game of the season, falling 5-3. The Saxons received good relief pitching from O'Connor, who worked 4-2/3 innings. Multi-hit games came from Thomas Dungan, Jack Parker, and Jeff Solomon.
Following the loss to South Lakes, Langley was able to get back onto the winning track with the big win over Madison.
"Defensively and on the mound we've done very, very well," said coach Healy. "I'd like to see us get more hits with runners in scoring position, but that's something that will come as we work on our approach at the plate.
A year ago, Langley struggled on the mound and the Saxons allowed too many runs, although they hit the ball well on offense.
"We struggled to keep other teams off the scoreboard," said Healy, of 2010.
Hopefully, Langley's first several games this season are an indicator that the pitching is improved.
"This year we have looked very good on the mound," said the coach. "We're deeper in pitching than we have been in quite some time. I think we've got a competitive group of kids as well. They've responded well under pressure early on."
Langley was scheduled to play a district game at Fairfax earlier this week on Tuesday, March 29. This Friday night, April 1, the Saxons will be home for a district game at 7 versus Marshall.