On Monday afternoon, senior Felix Passman flamed the St. Anselm’s Abbey School Panthers, tossing seven scoreless innings over 90 pitches and leading the Mighty Hoppers to a 7 to 0 victory. With the team rallying behind Passman’s efforts with their plate appearances, base running and fielding, the No. 8 seed had an impressive tournament debut in their play-in game for the District of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA) championship.
For the tournament, St. Anselm’s Abbey School was the No. 9 seed, making GDS get home field advantage. Since GDS has no baseball diamond, the game was hosted at Woodrow Wilson High School’s field.
“To see a senior have a moment like that where he throws a no-hitter in one of his last games,” men’s varsity baseball head coach Todd Carter said, “he’s gonna remember that for the rest of his life.”
Passman, who’s been on the varsity team since freshman year and will continue playing ball at Oberlin College next season, started off the game by throwing low and away, consistently getting Panthers batters to ground out or hit infield pop-flies. The right-hander donned eyeblack and green stirrups in the humid heat and was hopping around the dugout, staying true to his school’s mascot, to keep his blood flowing on the bench.
“I’ve been working really hard the past couple weeks,” Passman said. “To have a result like this today is a testament to how resilient [the team has] been this whole season.”
GDS’ offense started with a bang, driving in four runs in the first inning and one in the second. Throughout the game, Hoppers consistently made contact, hitting the ball hard in the gaps and on the ground, which made it tough for the Panthers to effectively make plays in the field. Their pitcher, senior Xavier Grimaldi, felt unwell during and ill-prepared for his outing, particularly noting the inconsistency of his curveball in an interview with the Bit. After their team had ended its season in mid-April with the expectation they wouldn’t qualify for the tournament, it was a “pleasant surprise” to participate in the play-in game.
“I did really bad today,” Grimaldi said. “I was feeling light-headed, my stomach was hurting. I was just trying to get through the game.”
In the bottom of the first, sophomore Pierson Cooper drove in senior Jeremy Jensen for the first run of the game, and after junior Miles Huh stole second base, Cooper stole home. Cooper and Huh combined for four doubles and stolen bases for the game. After the first few innings, the team’s bats didn’t slow down, but failed to produce the same quantity of runs in following innings, only scoring twice in the fifth after the team’s initial hitting rampage.
“I think the whole team performed well today,” Jensen said. “We hit, we fielded well and I think it was a good game overall.”
While the result of the game was never really a topic of uncertain anticipation once it got underway, the blowout victory wasn’t without controversy. In the bottom of the fourth, Carter gave Huh the signal to steal after he had doubled. After taking too short a lead on what he described as sandy, unpacked dirt, Huh got beat to the base by the throw of the Panthers’ catcher. Their third baseman seemingly failed to put down the tag in time, leading to the field umpire calling him safe. Immediately afterward, Panthers varsity baseball head coach Paul Wofsy stormed onto the field to call for the home plate umpire to reconsider the ruling. Huh described his temperament as “a little salty.”
“As he slid into third base,” Wofsy said in an interview with the Bit, “it actually looked to me like he slowed down and actually kind of stopped when the tag went down. The umpire called him safe, so I went out to talk.”
After shortly deliberating, the umpires reversed their call, to the liking of the Panthers’ first baseman, who shouted that there was one out to his team in the field before the umpires’ discussion was over. Preemptively, Huh headed towards the dugout.
“It’s been so long since I’ve seen something like that happen,” Huh said. “You can technically review calls, but in high school, it makes no sense. It’s not like you’re using a camera or anything.”
Aside from the shortstop’s overthrow to freshman Jackson Scarrow, the team’s first baseman in the top of the fifth, the Hoppers cleanly wrapped up the game in the field, while Passman continued to blow the ball by Panthers hitters.
“It was just a rough throw to get to,” Scarrow said. “I probably could have gotten to it if I read it right, but I just missed it.”
In the top of the seventh, sophomore Ben Carter, the son of the head coach, caught an infield fly and threw the ball to first base to get the only walked runner out, turning a double play to get two quick outs. Passman closed out his no-hitter by getting a batter to pop a routine flyball up to center field, getting caught to complete the game.
On Tuesday, the Hoppers face the St. John’s College High School Cadets, the top seed in the championship tournament, at their Military Road campus at 5:00 p.m. Jensen, currently GDS’ best available arm, will be taking the mound.
“They’re one of the best programs in the country,” coach Carter said. “but I think with Jeremy on the hill, we can beat anyone.”
Huh took a more grounded angle.
“Even if we do lose tomorrow,” Huh said. “The season has been really great in spite of all the COVID stuff. I’ve had a great time.”