Joe Cook, the 14-year-old Loudoun team's shortstop, already had singled, doubled and tripled off Stafford in a Babe Ruth State tournament loser's bracket game Sunday. He just wanted to crown his achievement.
"My dad was telling me to just go for a single, but I had to go for the home run," said Cook, whose father, Jim, is the coach of the team.
Although Loudoun eventually would win, 10-5, the younger Cook would not go on to hit for the cycle, lofting a routine fly ball to center in his last at-bat. It was one of the few outs he has made this postseason.
Cook, who also played shortstop for the Loudoun County junior varsity team last season, has six extra-base hits and is 16 for 24 (.667) through Loudoun's first six tournament games.
Loudoun lost to Fairfax by one run in the second round of the winner's bracket on Saturday--their fourth straight one-run loss to Fairfax dating to last season as 13-year-olds. But Loudoun advanced through the loser's bracket for a rematch against Fairfax on Tuesday night, and emerged victorious by the same score by which they lost on Saturday, 5-4.
"It was really weird because we came out and were hitting the ball really well, and I thought we were going to slaughter-rule them," Joe Cook said. "Then they just came back."
Tuesday's game was eerily similar to the first matchup. On Saturday, Loudoun was down going into the seventh but had the tying run on third with two outs. Tuesday night, Fairfax had the tying run on second with two outs after already scoring three runs in the inning, but the game ended when Cook made final out by catching a popup to shortstop.
Loudoun played Fairfax for the third time in the double-elimination tournament last night for the state championship.
Loudoun beat Augusta (Va.) in the first round Friday, 11-5, before losing to Fairfax. Loudoun had runners on first and third with two outs in the seventh against Fairfax but couldn't bring in the tying run. But Loudoun found success in the loser's bracket, defeating Stafford on Sunday and Varina (Va.), 14-0, on Monday.
"If you have the pitching, it makes getting through the loser's bracket a lot easier," said Jim Cook. "One of the biggest advantages of the winner's bracket is that you don't have to have as much pitching."
Loudoun 13-15 Eliminated
In the 13-15-year-old state tournament, hosted by Greater Loudoun Babe Ruth League, the host Loudoun team coached by Jeff Brown battled back from an 8-0 deficit in the first game to tie the game at eight in the sixth but eventually fell to Augusta (Va.), 10-9. After beating Spotsylvania on a two-hit shutout performance by Danny Watkins, Loudoun also beat Glen Allen, 8-6. But the host team fell in the third round of the loser's bracket to Dinwiddie, 10-2.
"We just ran into a team that we didn't hit the ball against," Brown said. "You can't do that in a state tournament."
The 16-year-old Loudoun Babe Ruth all-stars played their state tournament in Springfield and managed to make it out of the loser's bracket to the final. But Springfield beat them for the second time in the tournament to advance onto the regional finals in Mobile, Ala., beginning Aug. 6.
Loudoun beat a solid Fauquier team--which included several high school varsity players--in the District VIII tournament to advance to the states.
But the best Loudoun-Fauquier performance in a state tournament belongs to the Fauquier 9-10-year-olds. Fauquier defeated Augusta in the final July 20. The Fauquier squad will travel to Spartanburg, S.C., for the regional tournament beginning Friday.