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Baseball: STAB's Sixth-Inning Rally Sinks Huskies

Flint Hill celebrates seniors in pregame ceremony

After a ceremony to honor its seniors, the Flint Hill baseball team gave up their lead late in the game to fall to St. Anne's-Belfield High School 6-4 on Saturday.

As of April 30, the Huskies (14-6) ranked fifth in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association. The Saints, with an overall record of 5-18-1, are unranked.

"We just haven't been able to find a way to score runs lately, so every game is ending closer than we'd normally expect," Coach Tom Verbanic said.

The Saints opened scoring in the top of the first with an RBI single, but the Huskies answered in the bottom of the inning with a line drive double for two RBI from senior shortstop David Belt. The Huskies tacked on another run after senior left fielder Jordan Davis hit a sacrifice fly to score Bruce Briglia who reached third base on a single bobbled by the left fielder.

STAB's Brett Johnson hit a solo homer with one out in the third, which put the Saints one run behind with the scoreboard at 3-2. The Saints then tied the game in the fifth on an RBI double. 

In the bottom of the fifth, the Huskies again pulled ahead with an RBI double from senior left fielder Harrison Gray. But the run would be the Huskies' last, and the Saints added three more runs on a bases-clearing double in the sixth. 

Rick Armstrong started on the mound for the Huskies. He pitched two strikeouts and gave up six hits and two runs in three innings of work. Gray pitched 2 2/3 innings for three strikeouts while giving up one hit and one run. Felix van der Vaart closed for the Huskies, giving up one hit and three runs.

On Saturday, the Huskies tallied seven hits but flied out 13 times — a recurring problem the team has been dealing with as of late. 

"I just don't have an answer for that yet," Verbanic said. "We've been working on it, but we just haven't been able to get it done. We're struggling right now but it's not because of lack of effort."

Despite the loss, the seniors expressed gratitude for their experience with the Flint Hill baseball program, which honored them with a pregame ceremony in their last week of the regular season.

"I've put everything I have into this school and this program. It means the world to me," said Jordan Davis, who has been with the program for all four years of high school. "A lot of us have been together for the entire four years, and we're all tight. We're a tight-knit group of guys."

Other seniors played for other high schools before transferring to Flint Hill. Van der Vaart transferred to the school for his senior year and earned a starting position at second base.

"The Flint Hill program is really unique. ... Flint Hill has three legends for coaches. Verbanic, Tugwell and Griele have like 110 years of varsity coaching all together. It's absurd," van der Vaart said. "What they teach is just instrumental and unbelievable in making you a better baseball player."

The Huskies enter their final week of the regular season, facing off against Sidwell Friends at home Tuesday then traveling to St. Andrew's for the final game. 

The Huskies (7-3 MAC), vying for their fifth consecutive title, are third in the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference standings behind Maret and Sidwell Friends who are tied in first. With each team facing two MAC teams in the last week, first place might come down to the last game of the season.

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