April 18 - McLean has won eight of is past nine games after claiming the championship at this week’s Eddie Hope “Let’s Play Two” Tournament, and a big reason for the Highlanders’ success has been brothers Drew and Griffin Stieg.
Drew, a junior third baseman, started and helped the Highlanders go 14-8 and earn a Region 6D berth as a sophomore last year. His role has increased this spring and his seven-game hitting streak has come in the midst of McLean’s recent run. He was particularly productive this past week, earning tournament Most Valuable Player honors as the Highlanders won their second “Let’s Play Two” title in four years.
“Drew really improved from his freshman year to his sophomore year, but he still wasn’t a complete hitter,” McLean coach John Dowling said. “He’s really kind of figured it out. That kid can hit.”
The numbers validate Dowling’s sentiment. Drew is leading the team with a .432 average and a .510 on-base percentage and has eight extra-base hits and 10 RBI. He was even better in the tournament, going 8-for-14 with five runs and five RBI.
At the top of what has become one of the area’s most-dangerous lineups is younger brother Griffin, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound freshman center fielder and right-handed pitcher. The 15-year-old was penciled into the leadoff spot by coach John Dowling after an 8-1 loss to Yorktown on Mar. 29, and he has served as a catalyst while McLean (9-5) has averaged 7.8 runs per game since.
This week, he went 9-for-15 with seven runs and three RBI and made two relief appearances, pitching a scoreless sixth as the Highlanders held off Colgan, 6-4, in Monday’s pool play game and limiting No. 8 Stafford to two unearned runs on two hits over four innings and earning the win in an 11-9 comeback win in Wednesday’s championship game. On the year, he’s hitting .404 with a team-high 21 hits and 10 RBI.
“Griffin is on another level physically, and he’s got the maturity of a kid who’s not a freshman,” Dowling said. “He is a type-A competitor out there. And when that kid gets on the bases, he’s the most disruptive player we’ve ever had. He’s tough.”
McLean will look to continue its winning ways while facing three big tests next week, when it will travel to No. 10 Yorktown and South Lakes for Liberty District games before hosting Centreville on Friday.
Photos of Drew Stieg, left, and Griffin Stieg, right, by Julia McElligot