Oakton, Chantilly baseball teams in limbo after Virginia AAA Concorde District quarterfinal is cut short by lightning
By Preston Williams,
The Virginia AAA Concorde District baseball quarterfinal between Oakton and Chantilly was cut short after 41 / 2 innings on Tuesday night, and officials were deciding whether the elimination game would be ruled an official result or resumed Wednesday.
Oakton, the host, led 5-3 when play was halted by lightning. If the game is ruled official, the victory would vault Oakton into the Northern Region tournament and end Chantilly’s season.
Chantilly Athletic Director Terry Brown, the tournament director, said in an e-mail Tuesday night that the matter was still being sorted out.
Both teams retreated to the Oakton cafeteria to wait out the delay. The game was called shortly after 9 p.m.
“I don’t know what the decision is yet,” Chantilly Coach Kevin Ford said before leaving Oakton. “It’s still being investigated. It does not say explicitly in the district tournament rules [that the game is official]. I have a feeling that we’re going to end the season in the cafeteria, but I don’t know.”
It was a head-spinning night for the Chargers. They went from leading 3-0 in the fourth to trailing 5-3 in the bottom of that inning to possibly eliminated. The Chantilly players were loose and joking around in the cafeteria, apparently unaware that their season might be over. Ford, thinking he might learn more on the bus ride home, planned to explain the situation to his players when they arrived back at school.
Oakton Coach Justin Janis, who said late Tuesday that he had been told there would not be an official ruling until Wednesday, briefed his players before they scattered for the night.
“I haven’t seen anything like this before,” Janis said. “If they go by regular season rules, I think it’s an official game. It’s just a matter of if there’s a different rule for the playoffs.”
If Oakton indeed beat Chantilly for the fifth time in the teams’ last six meetings, it would mark the Cougars’ fifth consecutive win and advance them to face regular season Concorde champion Westfield at 6 p.m. Friday in the district semifinals.
Chantilly led 3-0 going into the bottom of the fourth. The Chargers scored a run in the second when seniors Sam Hellman and Jake Acosta delivered one-out singles, with Hellman later scoring on a fielder’s choice.
Hellman also drove in a run in the two-run third inning, during which Chantilly also parlayed a walk, bunt and error into another run off junior right-hander Matt Gregor. Oakton senior R.J. Garcia pitched two scoreless innings, striking out four.
Oakton loaded the bases with one out in the third, but Chantilly senior right-hander Caleb Reinhardt struck out the last two batters, giving him seven strikeouts to that point in the game.
To lead off the fourth, Oakton junior Mitch Carroll singled the first pitch to center, sophomore Dale Good singled an 0-2 pitch to right and junior Conor Flanagan singled, knocking in Carroll. The other four runs scored on a fielder’s choice off a bunt, a balk, an infield hit and another bunt.
“We were able to get some things going in situational and have some nice at-bats,” Janis said.
Prior to its winning streak, Oakton had lost seven of eight games after a 6-1 start. If the game is official, then Chantilly, 11-2 on April 23, would end the season with seven consecutive losses. The Chargers totaled 19 runs in those games.
It has been that kind of topsy-turvy season in the Concorde, where all six teams finished with a winning overall record and combined to win 41 of 54 non-district games. Regular season district champ Westfield started 0-2 in the league.
“That’s the thing about our district, no matter what, there are two good teams not playing in the region tournament,” Janis said. “You hate to see a game end this way and a season end this way.”