The most daunting draw on paper for Great Crossing baseball’s first-ever 11th Region playoff game played out that way on dirt, grass and under a crystal-blue, Saturday evening sky, too.
Frederick Douglass, a consensus top-10 team in the state all spring and flaunting a seemingly endless supply of future Division I athletes in its lineup, made it a quick business trip north with a 15-0, four-inning quarterfinal rout.
Broncos’ freshman Leighton Harris crushed two home runs, and pitchers Thomas Howard and Terrique Hicks combined for a three-hitter and the only shutout all season against an explosive Warhawk lineup.
“We (saw the potential) a couple years ago when they were very young,” GC coach Greg Stratton said of Douglass, which fell into the pool of second seeds by virtue of a loss to Sayre in the 42nd District championship. “Now they’ve gotten to the point where they are really good.”
Zac Lyons, Seth Benner and Aidan Foster had the only hits for Great Crossing (19-12), which was held to three or fewer runs on only five prior occasions.
Lyons threw out a pair of would-be base thieves to lessen the damage, but outs were otherwise hard to come by against Frederick Douglass (28-8). After a scoreless opening frame, the Broncos rolled up four runs in the second inning, eight in the third and three in the fourth to hasten the early ending.
Trey Brown also homered for Douglass and combined with Harris for seven RBI. Ty Bryant knocked in three more with two doubles and a single.
“I think in the beginning we had a little bit of nerves, and I kept trying to tell them throughout the whole first inning we don’t need to be nervous or anything,” Stratton said.
A strikeout from Cole Traylor and a nice dig by Jacob Tirlea at first base left Bryant at third after the Broncos’ lone hit in the first inning.
GC got a quick out in the second, as well, but Traylor then nicked Gavin Faulkner with a two-strike offering before giving up four consecutive hits. The Warhawks’ ace departed after blasts by Brown and Harris made it 9-0 with nobody out in the third.
“Cole wasn’t at his best. He kept the ball up in the zone, and that’s what they hit,” Stratton said. “That’s what everybody’s supposed to do. If you leave the ball up, you’re going to get hit at this level, and he knows that. They jumped all over it. They were waiting on that pitch.”
Hicks worked around a two-out triple by Lyons in the third. He buckled down after Benner and Foster’s singles in the fourth and struck out Grant Stewart to end it.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.