BETHESDA – For many high schools in the state, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) baseball Playoffs began May 9. One of the matchups in the 4A Region included fifth-seeded Einstein (9-8) taking on four-seeded Walter Johnson (11-6) in Bethesda.
The Wildcats were up by three runs until the Titans made it close in the middle of the game. Nevertheless, Walter Johnson came out with the 5-3 victory to advance to the second round and face No. 1 Walt Whitman.
The Wildcats jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, thanks to an RBI triple from designated hitter Noah Cerrud-Osmer, which drove in outfielder Thomas Wolfson, who also tripled in the previous at-bat.
“I was just trying to get the game started off with a nice big hit and try to get the run in,” said Cerrud-Osmer. “I think that helped us get off to a good start, and kept it rolling through the game.”
“C-O has been hitting well all year,” said Walter Johnson Head Coach Steve Sutherland. “He’s hitting over .500, leads the team in hits. I think that was his 29th or 30th hit this year. He’s a big-moment guy.”
One at-bat later, a wild pitch from Einstein’s Evan Hall allowed Cerrud-Osmer to make his way from third base to home plate and extend WJ’s lead to 2-0.
The top of the second is when the shutout disappeared, as Titans first baseman Aiden Kilpatrick singled up the middle to bring home outfielder Liam Shaffer and cut the deficit to 2-1.
However, in the bottom of the third, the Wildcats kept the momentum in their favor when catcher Elias Eberhart hit an RBI single and drove in Cerrud-Osmer and outfielder Anthony Lacola, to extend the lead to 4-1.
“I just tried to approach the pitch as best as I could,” said Eberhart, “and try to put the ball in play.”
Toward the middle of the fourth, Einstein loaded the bases with two outs. Outfielder Anthony LaCosta was able to get a single and drive in third baseman David Cartin to cut the deficit to 4-2, but Kilpatrick got caught in a pickle between second and third base and was called out, ending the inning.
In the bottom half of the same inning, LaCosta hit an RBI single to right field to drive home shortstop Malcolm Liu to extend WJ’s lead to by three runs.
The Titans kept hope alive in the top of the fifth when Ben Ruth singled and drove in a courtesy run scored by Owen Foltens. However, in the top of the sixth, with one out and bases loaded, the Wildcats were able to turn a double play to end the inning.
“I thought defense came up big towards the end of that double play,” said Sutherland. “I thought today was not our best day at all. I thought in the last nine games, we’re 8-1, and defense has been carrying us through. I thought, today, the defense was our weakest area.”
Sutherland noted that he went into this season “with a lot of question marks” after losing two very good pitchers last year.
“We started out the first two games and lost by 10 in both of them,” said Sutherland. “After eight games, we were 3-5. So I was kind of questioning what direction they would go, but they really stepped it up towards the end.”
Meanwhile, Einstein Head Coach Joe Rydzewski said he felt proud of how his team turned out, despite a rough start to the year.
“I’m really proud of these three seniors,” said Rydzewski. “The season started off and they were 1-5. They got themselves in a position to be the number-five seed in the section, played a tough Walter Johnson team.”