The 6A North region baseball championship game carried on for more than two hours Friday as evening turned to night and the sun set behind right field in Chantilly. But the game was all but over after one inning.
Each of the first five Chargers who stepped into the batter’s box went on to score, and senior outfielder Mike Sciorra blasted a three-run homer in his second at-bat of the inning as Chantilly built a commanding nine-run lead against McLean. The Chargers cruised to a decisive 12-0 victory and captured their first region title in team history.
Chantilly will face state power Cosby, which lost its first game of the season in the 6A South final, in the state semifinals next Friday night at Robinson. McLean will play Western Branch, which claimed the 6A South title with an 8-1 win over the Titans.
The Chargers (17-7) had waited more than 40 years for their first region baseball championship, but after the first 30 minutes Friday night, that championship was hardly in doubt. Junior pitcher Matt Hogle retired the Highlanders on 10 pitches to begin the game, then the Chargers went to work at the plate.
Eason Recto and Sciorra each singled to begin the bottom of the first before junior catcher Grant Bain dropped a sacrifice bunt that was mishandled by McLean’s pitcher. Colby Ryan, Ben McGrath, Tommy Vance and Recto then drove in at least one run apiece as the Chargers loaded and cleared the bases several times over.
“There was lots of energy in the dugout,” said Sciorra, a James Madison commit. “We just squared the ball up, saw it good, drove it where it was pitched and just kept it going. We didn’t stop. We wanted to pile on runs.”
McLean shortstop Joey Sullivan made several spectacular plays throughout the inning to keep the ball in the infield, but on each stop, he didn’t have a chance to throw out any base runners. The well-positioned hits, and early error, helped turn a tough inning into a disaster for McLean.
Chantilly had a sizeable 6-0 lead when Sciorra stepped to the plate for the second time in a span of little more than 20 minutes. He turned on the first pitch he saw, an inside fastball, and deposited it over the left field fence for his second home run of the season.
“We didn’t respond well to pressure,” McLean’s first-year Coach John Dowling said. “Some days you’re the hammer and some days you’re the nail.”
The Chargers added another run in the third inning while the Highlanders (15-11) struggled to do much of anything against Hogle, who quietly allowed just four hits over seven innings to complete the shutout.
“I know they have a guy who’s pretty good on the mound,” Ford said of Cosby, referring to Cosby starter Hunter Williams, a North Carolina signee, “so I don’t expect nine runs in the first again.”
After the Eagles (13-13) took a quick lead, Michael Kuzbel evened the score in the fourth inning. With two outs and a runner on third, he laid down a sacrifice bunt that rolled just inside of the foul line, bringing home a run. Mocabee then singled to left-center field in the fifth to help the Bulldogs (23-1) clinch a meeting with Hickory, the 5A South runner-up, next Friday at Lake Braddock.
“The one thing I told my guys after the game was, ‘We’re going to focus on Stone Bridge baseball, what’s got us 22 straight wins,’” Coach Sam Plank said. “We play defense, we put pressure on people and we throw strikes. When we do that, we have a chance to beat anybody.” . . .
Loudoun Valley kept its stellar season rolling with a 5-3 win over Poquoson in the 3A East championship game in Fredericksburg. The Vikings (22-3) will face William Byrd, a 2-0 loser to Tunstall in the 3A West, in the state semifinals at Liberty University next Friday afternoon.