St. John’s baseball wins fourth straight WCAC crown

St. John’s capitalized on DeMatha mistakes to capture its fourth straight WCAC title. The Cadets defeated the Stags 9-5 in the first game and completed a series sweep with a 6-1 victory on Sunday. (photo by Matt Seal)

St. John’s capitalized on DeMatha mistakes to get on the scoreboard, then showed its championship mettle by burying the Stags 6-1 to complete a sweep of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference baseball championship series.

The Cadets’ victory at the University of Maryland’s Shipley Field gave them their fourth straight WCAC championship, despite a lot of roster turnover from the 2016 title-winning squad.

“Of the 10 guys in the lineup, only three of them were on the field for the championship game against Good Counsel last year,” said Cadets coach Mark Gibbs. “It wasn’t the same group that just came back and won; it was a really new group.”

Although the final score makes the game look like a blowout, Gibbs pointed out that the teams were scoreless through five innings, until Cadets senior Peter Costigan ripped a ball to the outfield and a Stags error allowed the first run of the game.

“It was a 0-0 game and their right fielder dropped the ball and we just capitalized off of that,” Gibbs said.

The miscue was the spark that brought the Cadets’ bats to life. Junior Dylan Hunter followed it up with an RBI, and then senior Yash Rane brought two more home off a hit to left field for a 4-0 lead.

In the top of the sixth inning, the Cadets added to their lead when senior Jack Roberts and Costigan each added RBIs for the final margin.

While St. John’s was in a groove at the plate, senior Jake Pecilunas was stingy from the mound through five innings, and Roberts came in to close out the game. The Cadets’ pitching staff held the Stags to just one run, slamming the door on any potential rally.

“All four guys that threw [in the series] did a really good job,” said Gibbs. “They all throw a ton of strikes, and the defense played well behind them.”

Earlier, the Cadets set up the championship clincher by winning Game 1 in stunning fashion, rallying from a 4-0 hole to knock off DeMatha 9-5 in the first contest of the best-of-three series.

“In the top of the third inning, down 4-0 — our kids have seen that adversity before. There was no panic in the dugout,” Gibbs said. “We got a couple of guys on and made something happen. The guys just stayed composed.”

For St. John’s, the WCAC championship win was the end of the season. As it has since 2015, the team elected to bypass the D.C. State Athletic Association title tournament, according to Gibbs.