Potomac High School junior center fielder Phil Arellano found the bright lights of the Virginia AAA state quarterfinals momentarily blinding, and freshman designated hitter Mike Fravel lost his concentration just for a second in a clutch at-bat.
Those two mistakes and an effective performance by senior left-hander Tommy Edelblut was all Mills Godwin needed on its home field tonight to pull out a 2-0 win over the Panthers and advance to the state semifinals Friday in Norfolk.
Arellano lost a ball off the bat of sophomore Derek Mitchell to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning, when the Eagles scored both their runs on RBI singles by sophomore Jay Murphy and junior Tripp Vint. He had committed just one error all season -- that on a bad-hop hit -- and had two of his team's six hits tonight.
"It's really dark back there, and I couldn't read it off the bat at all," Arellano said. "I saw it at an angle, just not straight ahead."
"If it's hit in the air, he's the guy I want it hit to," Panthers Coach Mike Covington said with a shrug.
Potomac (22-4) had its best chance to score in the sixth inning. Senior Danny Lopaze chopped a single that barely reached the outfield grass in right in his final high school at-bat and moved to second on another chop, this one to left, by junior Steve Gonzalez. That brought to the plate Fravel, who had hit a three-run homer in the late innings against Gar-Field in the Northwestern Region semifinals.
Before Edelblut delivered the first offering, Fravel tried to call time. He was not granted the request, and as he backed out of the batter's box, Edelblut threw a pitch. To the horror of the Potomac bench, Fravel swung off-balance while only halfway in the box. The bouncer to second base resulted in an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
"I swung at a pitch I probably wouldn't have swung at," said Fravel, who had perhaps the cleanest hit off Edelblut with a leadoff single in the second. "I don't know why. It was just stupid. As soon as I swung I knew something bad was going to happen, and the worst thing that could have happened did."
The Panthers had weathered mistakes all season, and that included the playoffs. Junior left-hander Chris Garris was his usual self on the mound tonight, pitching himself in and out of trouble for five innings before yielding to Lopaze in the sixth. Garris walked one batter in each of the first four innings, but the spotty control was surmountable. The misplayed fly and the double-play ball were not.
"I've been saying it all along, and it finally caught up to us," Covington said. "They didn't do anything to beat themselves, and we did."
Edelblut had a lot to do with the Mills Godwin (22-4) victory, too. For one thing, he was facing fellow Virginia Commonwealth University signees Lopaze and Jose Pabon. Lopaze hit into a fielder's choice, struck out and reached on the scratch single. Pabon fanned twice and popped out to shortstop in his final high school at-bat.
"If I'd had lost tonight, I'd have heard about it all next year," said Edelblut, who struck out four and walked one. "That was definitely an incentive. I had a couple of more miles [per hour] on my fastball. I played them last year in the Commonwealth Games, and they had the better of me."
Potomac left runners on in six of the seven innings.
Potomac 000 000 0 -- 0 6 0
Mills Godwin 000 200 x -- 2 6 0
Garris and Lopaze and Lopaze (6) and Pabon. Edelblut and Abbate.