COLUMBIA — Mother Nature couldn’t get in the way of the rolling Bethesda-Chevy Chase Barons varsity baseball team as they triumphed Saturday over the Quince Orchard Cougars.
B-CC won the top overall seed in the 4A West region, but rain cost them the opportunity to host the regional championship game against Quince Orchard on Friday. Instead, the game moved a day later, and nearly an hour away to Columbia on a turf field.
No matter when or where the game was played, head coach John Schmidt and his Barons knew they would find a way to win.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Barons junior first baseman Nils Townsend hit a double to left field. Austin Taylor came around third and scored. B-CC had walked off Quince Orchard, winning the game 2-1, and advancing to the state semifinals for the first time since 1989.
“I got the fastball, so I cranked it. I knew it was going to be down. I was just thinking it was my time,” Townsend said.
Both the Barons and the Cougars sent their aces to the hill in this region’s final game. B-CC started Brendan Hughes, who has emerged as a star in Montgomery County this season, while Quince Orchard started senior Garrett Beloff, who has a 1.95 season ERA.
Both pitchers were dominant, though it was the Cougars who drew first blood.
With a runner on second, Quince Orchard took advantage of a throwing error by Barons shortstop Austin Taylor to score, and go up 1-0.
That unearned run in the second inning was the only time the Cougars would score. Hughes settled in, and for the third straight time against Quince Orchard, took total control. In 18.2 career innings pitched against QO, Hughes hasn’t allowed a single earned run.
“I can’t say enough about Brendan Hughes,” B-CC head coach John Schmidt said. “He was a little shaky in the first few innings, but he was like ‘Hey I’m here.’ He was at close to his pitch count, he was coming out next inning. So I was like, ‘Let’s not get to that last inning.’”
Beloff matched Hughes pitch for pitch, not allowing a Barons hit until the fourth inning.
In the fifth inning, the Barons broke through. Drew Packs singled to left field, driving in John Hemmer as the tying run.
B-CC had chances to score in the later innings, but came up empty each time. After the Barons failed to drive in a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh inning, the game headed to extra innings.
Hughes continued to roll into the eighth inning, giving B-CC another chance to win it in the bottom of the frame.
That’s exactly what they did as Townsend got the winning hit.
For the first time in 29 years, the B-CC Barons were headed to the state semifinals, where they will face the Howard Lions, the winner of the 4A North region.
“It feels great,” Barons centerfielder Sebastian Mieses said. “I’ve never felt anything like this before. It’s one I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”