GREENBELT – Right-handed pitcher Brian Bailey was not ready to leave the mound without leaving an impression.
Eleanor Roosevelt Head Baseball Coach Andrew Capece attempted to substitute him before the top of the seventh inning. The officiating crew overruled the request once Bailey began warming up on the mound so the junior knew he would face one batter before being pulled.
Chants of “Bubba” began to ring out before each pitch. Listening to the affectionate nickname given to him at an early age, motivated Bailey as he threw a fast pitch to strike out his final batter. The senior let out a massive roar in celebration as his home fans applauded him.
“I was hoping; I was looking to pitch the whole game. It was fun up there,” Bailey said. “The whole game, I was trying to work around them and make them work and not throw anything down the middle for them.”
“If you look at his stats, Bubba does not throw a lot of strikeouts per innings pitched,” Capece said. “The thing about Bubba is that he comes after guys, he throws strikes; he has a good command of his curveball and he’s not afraid to throw his curveball on any count.”
In a game where Roosevelt accumulated only four hits, Bailey’s five strikeouts were enough to keep Parkdale High School at bay. Offensively, the Raiders use their baserunning and capitalized on critical errors to clinch their second 4A South regional title in three years with a 11-2 victory on May 17.
The win does more than maintain the Raiders’ (20-0) undefeated season. For Capece, Roosevelt passed three major playoff tests in Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr., Charles H. Flowers and Parkdale on route to their state semifinal berth.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything more at this point,” Capece said. “This was a really tough league this year; in the past, you may have had to beat one or two teams… (this year), all of them had pitching, and nothing was easy.”
Meanwhile, Parkdale (10-10) looked to make history by clinching their first state semifinals appearance since 1997.
Roosevelt scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning via two sacrifice flies. Parkdale pitcher Chris Osorio threw one of his five strikeouts on outfielder Chase Van der Have to end the inning. The junior threw for three innings, walked five and allowed three hits during his appearance as Parkdale’s starter.
In the bottom of the second inning, Roosevelt infielder Chris Jones looked poised to steal second base with two outs, causing catcher Steven Osorio to react and throw the ball for a pickoff attempt. However, no Panther was on second base to receive the ball, allowing Jones to steal two bases and make it home for Roosevelt’s third run of the day.
“I get on as the lead-off man, and it is my job to get around and score,” Jones said. “We always need to capitalize on a mistake because you never know when it is going to happen again.”
As the bottom of the third began, Roosevelt was in scoring position following two hits by juniors Todd Murphy and Cejay Hopkins. Chris Osorio threw a wild pitch over his catcher’s head, which gave Murphy enough time to steal home and score the Raiders’ fourth run. Two batters later, junior Damon Pigrom popped a single to center field to add an extra point for Roosevelt.
Parkdale looked to fight back in the fourth with two runners on base during Steven Osorio’s at-bat. He connected with a single that drove in Parkdale’s first run of the day but two runners, included Osorio, were tagged out while trying to steal bases during the same sequence for a double play.
Pitcher Eddy Velasquez looked to add relief for Parkdale in the bottom of the fourth but walked his first two batters and surrendered a run on a sacrifice fly. Meanwhile, catcher Steven Osorio tried to pick off a stolen base attempt for the second time, but overthrew his third baseman, sending the ball rolling down the left field foul line. Two runners took advantage of the error and scored for Roosevelt.
Outfielder Keishawn Hall’s RBI double in the fifth brought in Parkdale’s second run but time for a comeback was running out. Roosevelt added three more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, due to two errors, a wild pitch and an overthrown ball to first base. Following Bailey’s final strikeout, right-hander Andy Orwig earned the save with a strikeout and a groundout to end the game.
“We made mistakes, and they took off on our mistakes,” Parkdale senior Mekel Humphries said. “We have been here before last year, and we know this feeling. It does not feel good, so I know my guys will come back next year, and they will go past the regional finals.”
For Capece, the win was not pretty, but his team got the job done to get one step closer to winning a state title. Roosevelt was the last county school to earn a baseball title in 2007.
This year’s team has to be capabilities to make history, the Raiders head coach said.
“This is great, but we do not want to let our guard down now,” Jones said. “We got to keep pushing through and keep picking up W’s.”