Eaglebrook stayed in it until the end, but Cardigan Mountain School pulled away in the bottom of the sixth in a 2-1 victory on Saturday.
Kiernan Keller started on the hill for Eaglebrook. He pitched brilliantly for five innings, allowing zero earned runs, striking out 7 and walking 3. It was a typical gutsy performance by Kiernan; he pitched his way out of several jams and was never rattled by the moment.
After falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, Eaglebrook had a golden opportunity in the top of the 2nd inning. Ryan McHugh led off the inning with a blast to left field, a ground rule double that bounced over the road. He quickly reached third on a wild pitch, but Eaglebrook couldn't find a way to move him home. It was a bit of a theme for Eaglebrook. Despite 14 strikeouts, we put runners on in 5 of 7 innings, and had 9 at-bats with runners in scoring position to Cardigan's 8. Hats off to stoic performances by Cardigan pitchers and consistently stellar heads-up play on defense.
In the third, Eaglebrook was able to put one across to tie the game. Huck Jamison led off with a poke down the first base line, Jack Bradway and Wade Volo walked, and Kiernan put one in play and reached on an error, scoring Huck to tie the game at one.
It was at this point with the score tied 1-1 in the top of the fourth inning that the game seemed to enter a transcendent level of play. With an electric crowd roaring on both sides of the diamond, both teams battled back and forth, making stellar plays in the field, and grinding out at bats to find ways to get on base. Both teams threatened to score in the fifth inning -- first, Eaglebrook loaded the bases with one out, but Cardigan put in their ace, who produced a quick strikeout and fly out. Later with two outs in the bottom of the 5th, Center Fielder Landon Whayne went back on a deep fly ball that throughout its' entire flight surely looked like it would be an RBI-double for Cardigan, but Landon never lost track of it and made an incredible catch to bring the team in to hit and the crowd to their feet.
Cardigan finally broke the stalemate in the bottom of the sixth, scoring on a bases loaded throwing error to go up 2-1. Pitcher Ryan McHugh and Carson Cleage quickly shut down the potential rally, however, with one of the finer plays we have ever seen at this level. With the bases still loaded, Cardigan laid down a bunt. Ryan charged hard from the mound and flipped the ball with his glove to Carson, who stepped on home and fired the ball to first baseman Bobby Miele for the inning-ending double-play. Carson was magnificent behind the plate all game, blocking balls in the dirt, picking off a base runner at first, and holding the team together with his poise and confidence the way he has done all season.
Unfortunately, Eaglebrook went down swinging in short order in the seventh to end a truly remarkable baseball game, worthy of this long-standing rivalry. It is no stretch to suggest that this was one of, if not the best, baseball games to have ever been played between these two excellent teams.
While it was not the outcome the team would have liked, we could not have been more proud of the players for their toughness, their competitive spirit, and the joy with which they played the game of baseball, both today and throughout the entire season. Eaglebrook ends the season 8-2, Varsity baseball's best record in more than a decade. It was one to celebrate and remember, and we coaches are immensely proud to have been a part of this team and baseball family. Thank you to everyone who has come to support us throughout the season and to our Sixth Formers for your leadership. To the remaining core of Brookie baseball players, we have faith you will carry on the tradition! "Brook on 3, Family on 6!"