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Middle School A Baseball: Quaker bats awaken, produce 12-2 win over Concordia

History repeated itself in yesterday’s Concordia-Friends game at Medfield. When these two teams squared off last April, Friends jumped out to an early 2-0 in the first inning, only to watch Concordia (formerly Baltimore Lutheran) add two runs of their own in the second frame, before pulling way ahead in the middle innings en route to an easy 12-2 victory. Interestingly, yesterday’s game played out like a re-run of 2014’s, with almost the identical script. What was most remarkable about the outcome, however, was that after watching pre-game warm-ups, coach Richard Dopkin predicted a 12-2 Friends victory, nailing the call with precision that would be the envy of Vegas.
Second baseman Zach Raynes '20 led-off with a perfectly placed bunt single, then stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch, before shortstop Steedman Jenkins '19 drove a deep sacrifice fly to right field for the first run. Julian Frost '19 reached on an error and scored on another, when Concordia’s left-fielder misjudged a fly ball off the bat of Jordan Klawans '19, putting Friends up 2-0.
Klawans took the mound for the first start of his career. He battled with control issues (5 walks) throughout his two innings of work, but fought his way out of two bases-loaded jams, while minimizing the damage. He escaped unscathed in the first inning, ending the frame on a strikeout that stranded three runners, and yielded only two runs in the second, before Kiefer Yost '19 made a nice snag of a deep fly ball to end another bases-full Concordia threat.
Meanwhile, the Friends offense, relatively sluggish throughout the early weeks of the season, really took flight. The Quakes matched their season-high with a five-run second inning, thanks to base-hits by Alex Prichett '19, Jeremy Weinberg '19, Frost, and Matt Leikus '21, coupled with a BB and another superb squeeze bunt by Raynes. In the later innings, Friends continued to drive the ball, with impressive hits to the right-centerfield gap by Yost and Charlie Lebowitz '19 and a hard grounder through the hole at third by Sam Haas. Probably the hardest hit ball of the day came off the bat of utility man Dylan Jesner '19, who was robbed of extra bases by Concordia’s speedy centerfielder.
In all, Friends rapped ten hits on the day, continuing the team’s steady improvement from 4 hits to 7 to 8 and now a new high of 10, in games 3 through 6 respectively. Nine different Quakers earned hits for the day, as only outfielder Neely “Scruffy” McGinty '19 managed multiple hits. Scruffy also got the only extra-base knock on the day, with an RBI double that easily cleared a back-pedaling left-fielder.
The big cushion allowed Friends to experiment by sending rookie Weinberg out to make his lifetime pitching debut in the middle innings. Just a bit shaky at first, he walked the initial batter on four pitches, but quickly settled down and notched four K’s during two shut-out innings of one-hit ball—a performance clearly worthy of additional outings in the future. The only lefty on the team, Weinberg clearly presents a different look from the hill and his finesse-over-power approach provides deceptive contrast to fireballers like Frost and Prichett. Following Weinberg’s solid performance, Jenkins and Raynes mopped up the last two frames to preserve the convincing win.
At the mid-point of the 2015 season, the Quakers are proud owners of a 4-2 record and are riding a two-game win streak. Optimism is high heading into the second half, as the spring weather is not the only thing heating up; Friends’ offense seems to be shaking off its long winter slumber at just the right time!
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