Madison baseball looks back on what might have been


Madison shortstop Andy McGuire and his teammates did not get to do as much celebrating in the postseason as they had hoped after winning 22 straight games. (Richard A. Lipski/For the Washington Post)

The Madison baseball team this season won 22 consecutive games, handily beat rival Oakton and twice beat neighboring Marshall by one-sided scores.

Yet it is those latter two teams that will play on in the Virginia AAA Northern Region tournament semifinals today, on Madison’s home field, no less, while the top-ranked Warhawks are left to reconcile the aftertaste of their season. An impressive run, for sure, but what felt like a premature end with their 9-6 quarterfinal loss to No. 3 Lake Braddock.

Madison had far greater aspirations, as the “Warhawks Seek Championship Run in 2013″ season preview headline in their team media guide would suggest.

“We would have liked to have gone further,” senior outfielder Ben Socher said Tuesday, the day after the loss. “But our last loss was in March, which is just incredible to think about the time that has passed. Just no regrets looking back. It was a great run.”

“Twenty-two straight is pretty unbelievable,” senior shortstop Andy McGuire said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been on a team that’s accomplished anything like that. But it’s the same kind of feeling as last year. We were knocked out on our home field [by Langley in the Liberty District quarterfinals]. But Lake Braddock’s a great team. It’s tough, but when you’ve got no regrets, you can’t really be upset about anything. We played our hearts out all year, and they just got the best of us [Monday].”

McGuire, considered one of the nation’s top prospects, and Socher, the region player of the year, now head off in different directions. McGuire is projected as a high-round draft pick but he also has a scholarship to Texas to consider. Socher is playing at Dartmouth.

While Madison handled burdensome expectations all season, rival Marshall (10-14), in the state semis for the first time since 1994, is spending what first-year Coach Aaron Tarr calls “house money” as if it were Monopoly currency.

Even though the Statesmen are an upset of Lake Braddock away from a state tournament berth, Tarr continues to tamp down the pressure on his team, which at one time was 0-7 and later 5-13.

“It’s so much easier to play with the house money the way that we’re playing,” Tarr said after the 5-4 win over Centreville on Monday at Madison. “It just is. You can see from everybody who played on this field today, everybody’s a little bit terrified. We’re a little bit less terrified than everybody else because we weren’t really supposed to advance to this point anyways.

“The one thing that debilitates people at this time of the year is that they get freaked out by the enormity of the situation. If [the Statesmen] start doing that, then they’re going to freeze. So what I’m trying to do as best I can is keep them moving. One thing that we’re preaching in practice is get to your backups. My feeling is if they’ve got this nervous energy we can run it off as long as they just keep moving.”

In those Northern Region semifinals today at Madison, Oakton and South County meet at 4 p.m. and Lake Braddock and Marshall play at 7 p.m.

NUMBER CRUNCH: 78

Pitches, according to one count, that Loudoun Valley senior Danny White threw in a nine-inning stint of perfect-game ball at Sherando on Tuesday night in his team’s eventual 1-0 loss in 13 innings in a Virginia AA Region II quarterfinal. Virginia High School League rules allow nine innings thrown in a day, a sore spot with some who say that number of pitches thrown, regardless of innings, is a more accurate way to gauge the workload on young arms.

BREAKFAST LINKS:

— Tuscarora topped  Potomac Falls, 2-0, in a Virginia AA Region II boys’ soccer quarterfinal on two late-game goals by sophomore Justin Carey.

— On the girls’ side in Region II, Briar Woods junior midfielder Kaileen Pritchard helped spur her team to a 2-0 home win over Charlottesville.

— In a Region II baseball quarterfinal, Potomac Falls got another gem from senior left-hander James Pearson and two clutch hits in the bottom of the sixth inning in a 1-0 home win over Millbrook.

WHAT TO WATCH TODAY:

Too many games to name, really, with so many Virginia AAA region semifinals in baseball, soccer and softball in Virginia. The semifinals really are more meaningful than the region championship games, because this is an elimination round. The teams that reach their respective region finals sew up state berths regardless of the outcome in those championships.

I plan to be at BattlefieldHylton baseball, but let’s make the game to watch No. 4 Lake Braddock at No. 1 Oakton at 7 p.m. in boys’ soccer. One of those unbeaten teams’ season will end today.

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Eric Detweiler · May 28, 2013