Performance Turns Out All Wright For Bruins

By Preston Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Minutes before last night's Virginia AAA baseball quarterfinal at Oakton, a Forest Park assistant told Coach John Colantuoni that senior ace Justin Wright seemed a bit tight and that his arm did not feel as good as it had recently.

This news concerned Colantuoni to the point that he instructed his coach to make sure the No. 2 pitcher, senior Jake Pruner, was ready to go if necessary.

If Wright was tight, Oakton would hate to see him loose. The All-Met left-hander, who soon gained his form, tossed a five-hitter in his team's 5-2 victory, propelling the Bruins into the semifinals with the chance to notch the first state title in program history.

Junior Alex Jabs delivered two RBI hits and made a nice play in the right field corner in the fifth inning to perhaps save a run when it was still a one-run game. Senior Nick Beall and junior Jamie Blackwell each had two hits and an RBI.

"It took me awhile to get used to the mound and everything, but I was just throwing first-pitch strikes and keeping them off-balance with the curveball and change-up," said Wright, noting that the mound did not seem to have much incline. "Once I got used to it, then I was fine."

Forest Park (23-2) scored single runs in the second (Blackwell home run), fourth and fifth innings off Oakton senior ace Eric Cantrell and tacked on two more in the sixth.

Wright (11-0 with two saves) gave up an unearned run in the first and another run in the fourth that made it a 2-2 game. He retired seven of the last eight batters he faced and finished with five strikeouts and two walks.

"He took the seventh inning to another level," Colantuoni said. "His heart and leadership just took over."

Northern Region champion Oakton (23-4) had not lost by as many as three runs all season.

"Our bats were a little slow tonight," Cougars Coach Scott Rowland said. "Like I told our guys, I don't feel like we really lost. I just feel like they played better. They hit a little better, they pitched a little better, they played a little better defense."

No. 4 Forest Park 5 No. 7 Oakton 2 Follow Up: Of the eight teams in the state tournament, Oakton was the only one that made states last year. The Cougars started five juniors last night, including the top four hitters in the order. Up Next: Forest Park will play James River, a 12-1 winner over Granby, in the state semifinals at noon Friday at Christopher Newport University in Newport News.

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