McLean Sneaks Past W & L to the Liberty Championship



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By John Nolan
Assistant Director of Scouting/Content Management 

Vienna-The second Liberty Conference 6 semifinal of the night at Madison featured third-seeded Washington & Lee and second seed McLean. McLean tabbed senior ace and Liberty Conference Player of the Year Jon Clines (VMI) for the start and W & L went with senior Noah Winslow (Lynchburg).

Clines put up a zero in the first inning, working around a pair of walks with a pair of strikeouts. Winslow went three-up, three-down in the bottom half of the first. For velocities and scouting information on Clines and Winslow, check the Virginia/DC Scout Blog later this week.

Clines got two quick outs in the second, but then allowed another walk and a single before ending the inning. In the bottom of the second, McLean got a one-out single down the leftfield line from freshman designated hitter Nick Liverpool, who took second when the ball was bobbled in the outfield. First baseman Tom Shue followed that up with his own single to left, driving in Liverpool to open the scoring. Shue was caught stealing by T.R. Sheehy (Navy). After Brendan Grammes drew a walk, Trevor Schleppenbach doubled to deep left center, scoring Grammes and pushing McLean’s lead to 2-0.

Washington & Lee got to work answering immediately as senior second baseman Will Burgess (Shepherd) led the third off with an infield single and stole second. After walk and another single loaded the bases, Burgess was able to score on a wild pitch to halve the McLean lead. Clines was able to end the threat there with no more damage. McLean got a baserunner in the third but failed to score, and the Highlanders led, 2-1, through three innings.

The top of the fourth saw Henry Bendon get things started with his second hit of the night, a one out double to right. After advancing the third on a wild pitch, centerfielder Chris Brady smoked a ball towards the 3.5 hole. A diving stab knocked down and allowed McLean to get Brady out, but Schleppenbach scored to tie the game. Winslow had really settled in at this point, and responded with a three-up, three-down inning to send the game to the fifth inning, tied at two.

McLean went to the bullpen to start the fifth, bringing in sophomore lefty Max Groppe. Groppe quickly placed his imprint on the game, striking out the side, with all three strikeouts looking.

Schleppenbach led the bottom of the fifth off with his second hit, a single to left. Matt Hanusik drew a walk to put runners on first and second with no outs and the top of the Highlander order coming up. Winslow got exactly what he wanted at this point, a double play ball to give him the opportunity to escape the inning with the game still tied. Senior Will French had other thoughts, punching a ground ball through the infield to drive in Schleppenbach and give the Highlanders back the lead, 3-2 after five.

Groppe got the first two outs of the sixth before walking Brady with two outs. McLean opted to go to the bullpen, calling shortstop Conor Grammes (Xavier) in to pitch. After walking Burgess, Grammes got a strikeout to end the inning. Winslow worked a scoreless bottom of the sixth to send the game to the seventh.

Grammes stayed on, trying to hold the lead and push McLean into the Liberty Conference Championship game, but would have to work through the middle of the Washington & Lee lineup. Grammes was up to the task, striking out two and only allowing one runner to reach on an error.

McLean will advance to Friday’s Liberty Conference 6 Championship Game, where they will face top-seeded James Madison. Washington & Lee will be the Liberty Conference’s third seed in next week’s 6A North Regional Tournament, and will travel to the winner of Thursday night’s Cedar Run Conference 8 semifinal between Osbourn Park and Patriot.

For McLean, Clines didn’t factor in the decision, going 4 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 3 BB, 5 K. Groppe earned the win, going 1 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, BB, 4 K. Grammes earned the save, going 1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, BB, 3 K. At the plate, French was 1-2 with a HBP and an RBI. Liverpool was 1-2 with a run. Shue was 1-2 with a SB and an RBI. Schleppenbach was 2-2 with a 2B, a run, and an RBI.

For Washington & Lee, Winslow was the tough luck loser, going 6 IP, 3 R, 6 H, 2 BB, 2 HBP, 2 K. Brady was 0-2 with 2 BB and a RBI. Burgess was 2-3 with a BB, SB, and a run. Bendon was 2-3 with a 2B and a run. Teddy Herbert (Christopher Newport) was 0-2 with 2 BB. 

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