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FairfaxSportsMcLean wins Liberty baseball tournament

McLean wins Liberty baseball tournament

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A baseball season that began with high expectations now has two boxes checked as far as significant accomplishments for the McLean Highlanders.

The high-school team (16-6) backed up its regular-season performance of earning the top seed in the Liberty District tournament by winning the competition with a 2-0 record. In the May 20 championship game, host McLean topped the No. 3-seed Yorktown Patriots, 3-1, for its second such title since 2019, also defeating Yorktown in the final that year.

“This is an awesome and the best feeling, and so much fun in high-school baseball to win this,” said McLean senior right-hander Griffin Stieg, who hurled a three-hit, 100-pitch complete game with 12 strikeouts in the 2022 final, and also belted a long double. “This is what we’ve wanted. Now we want to chase other banners.”

On the mound, Stieg (8-1 with three complete games this season), said his fastball and changeup carried him much of the night.


Offensively for the Highlanders, the team stole 10 bases, led by Jakob Luu and Chris Morabito with three each and Gabriel Pegues with two. Three steals set up all three runs scored coming on RBI singles by Luu, Morabito and Avi Furman. McLean had five hits, with Gavin Bartlett having the other.

With many fast players, for the season, McLean has stolen 89 bases, with 10 as a game high.

“We can’t let 10 guys steal on us,” Yorktown coach John Skaggs said. “The difference in the game was they put the ball in play with runners in scoring position and we didn’t enough.”

McLean coach John Dowling said his players started building on winning the title last spring when the Highlanders finished 7-7 in a shortened season.

“We had some young guys last year and they have more experience now and that is paying off,” he said. “These players have been so up and ready to work hard and they have done a good job of that every time they have come to practice. They all like each other, and we like them. It’s an easy group to coach.”

In the district semifinals, McLean blanked the Langley Saxons, 10-0, after receiving a first-round bye.

Evan Fontaine started and pitched five innings of three-hit ball with seven strikeouts and no walks to get the win. Jack Nance threw the final hitless inning with two Ks and no walks in the six-inning contest.

Ethan Ball had three hits with a double and two RBI, Luu doubled twice and Morabito, A.J. Poole and Robbie Coates had hits.

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