Brentsville shooting for home field advantage in playoffs

By Preston Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 13, 2010

Brentsville lost 2-1 at Fauquier on Wednesday night for its first Virginia AA Evergreen District setback. And although the Tigers still have a one-and-a-half game cushion for the regular season league title, every game matters when it comes to Region II playoff seeding.

Winning percentage is used as a seeding tiebreaker, so one seemingly meaningless loss could be the difference between playing a postseason game at home or on the road.

Eighth-year Brentsville Coach Brian Knight thought having the home field advantage was a big deal two years ago, when his team rallied with five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to knock off Broad Run, 5-4, in the region championship.

"That proved to our guys that that's why you try to win every game," Knight said. "Because you never know what's going to happen later on. What happens if we lose one of those games and have to go to Broad Run? Do we win that game?

"Any time we slack off, that's all I have to mention: 'Do you want to play here, or get on a bus?'"

Brentsville (16-3, 6-1) has done a lot of winning recently, rattling off a 57-12 record the past three seasons. Four sophomore standouts from the 2008 state quarterfinal team are now seniors.

Outfielder Jimmy Kerns leads the team in hits and runs, has driven in 16 runs from the leadoff spot and has stolen 13 bases in 16 attempts. In that region final two years ago, he drove in current senior outfielder-catcher Brian McBride (team-high 19 RBI) with the winning run.

Senior pitchers Justin Weaver and Austin Hale entered the week a combined 12-0. Weaver has struck out 42 batters in 31 1/3 innings and walked four (and is batting .367). Hale has 50 strikeouts in 38 and 1/3 innings. Opponents are batting .150 vs. Weaver and .191 vs. Hale.

The Tigers' first objective is to sew up the Evergreen title in the district's first season of existence; they conclude the regular season at home Tuesday against Warren County. But they also might be thinking about another Region II title run and state berth.

"I don't try to compare the teams," Knight said, "but when I look at the makeup of these teams, this team is better one through 15 than we were a couple of years ago. But that doesn't take anything from what we did two years ago. They worked well together and they wanted each other to succeed. We've got a lot of that in this team also."

© 2010 The Washington Post Company