With many Lake Braddock seniors on a class trip to Busch Gardens on Tuesday and others skipping classes, Bruins Coach Jody Rutherford thought he could provide some extra incentive for his school-trapped seniors by going out to lunch with them.
“I hope this isn’t the last supper,” Rutherford remarked to one of his coaches before heading out to the restaurant.
It was not, but there might have been a moment or two of indigestion in the defending state champion Bruins’ 5-4 Virginia AAA state quarterfinal home win over Patriot that evening in the seniors’ final game on their home field.
Lake Braddock absorbed a pair of two-run homers by the Pioneers, including one in the top of the seventh inning that brought the tying run to the plate, before securing a return trip to the state semifinals.
Counting a home run by senior outfielder Alex Gransback to lead off the fifth, the Bruins put the leadoff man on in each inning, which helped pressure second-year program Patriot into committing five errors. The Bruins’ lone earned run was Gransback’s blast.
Lake Braddock (23-4) advances to the semis to face Great Bridge, a 3-0 winner over Douglas Freeman. Oakton edged Hylton, 4-3, to also advance. The Cougars will play Hanover, which beat Kellam, 5-0. Both semifinals are Friday at Westfield.
After Lake Braddock scored an unearned run in the first inning, Patriot took a 2-1 lead in the top of the second when sophomore Nate Eikhoff singled and senior Nick Moore deposited a full-count pitch over the left field fence.
The Pioneers left the bases loaded to end the fifth inning, and after Moore drew a leadoff walk from senior left-hander Thomas Rogers to open the sixth, Lake Braddock senior Nick McIntyre came on to record three outs with two pitches, the first two on a 5-4-3 double play and the last on a flyout.
“All I know from being in states last year is that you’ve got to win,” Gransback said. “It doesn’t matter how you do it. You’ve just got to get the win.”
In his longest outing of the season, 91 pitches worth, Rogers struck out seven and walked two. Earlier in the season it was not known if he would be able to pitch at all this spring after undergoing a Tommy John procedure last fall.
Senior Nick Brown went the distance for Patriot (19-7), allowing five hits, walking four and striking out four.
●OAKTON EDGES HYLTON: In the Cougars’ 4-3 win at Hylton, senior Kyle Burger drove in senior Joey Bartosic with the decisive run in the sixth inning and senior Matt Gregor, Oakton’s third pitcher of the night, threw 2 2 / 3 innings to earn the win.
Gregor had entered the game in the fifth when Hylton (18-8) had runners on the corners and one out. The first reliever for Oakton (21-5), junior Tommy Lopez, got out of a similar spot in the third inning.
Lopez also had a two-run single in the first for the Cougars (21-5). Senior Brian Burns had an RBI double in the third. Bartosic scored three runs.
●WOODGROVE SURVIVES: In a Virginia AA Region II semifinal in Williamsburg, the Wolverines won 2-1 at Warhill when junior Matt Jeffery singled with two outs in the top of the 12th inning, stole second and beat a throw to the plate when a ground ball off the bat of freshman Colin Reid crept through the infield.
Jeffery closed out the win on the mound. He had entered in the eighth inning in relief of sophomore Kaleb Bowman.
Third-year program Woodgrove (17-7) scored early in the game on a two-out hit by sophomore Hank Biggs before Warhill tied it in the bottom of the seventh on a two-out RBI triple.
In the eighth, Jeffery entered with the bases loaded and no outs and coaxed a 1-2-3 double play and flyout. Another extra inning ended with a Warhill runner being thrown out at third base.
The Wolverines advance to the semifinals to face Tunstall at 1 p.m. Friday at Calfee Park in Pulaski.
“I’m very proud of these guys,” said Woodgrove Coach Brad Bauder, who had three freshmen on the field by game’s end. “To give it up in the seventh inning and play five more innings of baseball and to come back and win it. . . . It’s somebody different every night setting things up for us or getting things done for us.”