Historic Run, Flat Finish for Eagles
Sunday, June 8, 2008
For years to come, the Colonial Forge baseball players may have to reconcile themselves with the mixed emotions of being the first Stafford County team to reach a Virginia AAA baseball final, yet struggling greatly once they got there.
Each Eagle will have to work that out for himself after yesterday afternoon's never-in-doubt 10-0 loss to James River at Westfield in the state championship.
Just as Colonial Forge made Stafford history, the Rapids made state history by becoming the first back-to-back champion since W.T. Woodson in 1989 and '90.
James River senior left-hander Austin Stadler, a Wake Forest signee and 40th-round draft choice Friday by the San Francisco Giants, gave up five hits -- all singles -- struck out seven batters and walked none in his breezy 64-pitch, six-inning outing that came across as relatively effortless if not for the sizzling temperatures.
"I love to pitch in the heat," said Stadler, who hit a walk-off home run in the win over Bethel in the state semifinals and pitched the eighth inning to earn the win. "With the heat, you know [the batters] are suffering, too, so you just have to out-battle them."
Meanwhile, the Rapids battered four Colonial Forge pitchers, three of whom had thrown Friday night in the 7-6 semifinal win over Lake Braddock. One of them was senior Colin McManus, who also had pitched the rain-shortened quarterfinal win over Cosby on Wednesday, and another was junior Garrett Marin, Friday's starter, who was forced into mop-up duty yesterday.
Come the late innings, the depleted Eagles (20-9) might have been tempted to sneak 1995 Cy Young Award runner-up Pete Schourek, a Marshall graduate who threw out the ceremonial first pitch, into a Colonial Forge jersey.
"Basically, it came down to pitching," senior right fielder Shayne Paskanik said. "We didn't have much left, and they had the best one in the state."
"His off-speed, [Stadler] kept it low, and that's what we had trouble with," said Colonial Forge shortstop Levi Hyams, who had two hits.
James River (21-5) collected 12 hits, half of them doubles, and scored in each of the first five innings. Junior leadoff man Austin McGowan had three hits, and Stadler (intentionally walked twice) and senior Ian Harvey had two hits each.
This season marked the Eagles' third trip to the state tournament in five years and their first time to advance out of the quarterfinals. And this came after graduating 10 players from the 2007 state quarterfinal team.
"There's nothing to take away negative from this season, because we did a lot of firsts," Colonial Forge Coach Shawn Szakelyhidi said. "It was a great group of kids, and I couldn't be more proud than I am right now."