The baseball standings in the Dulles District got a whole lot tighter -- and much more interesting -- Tuesday night.
Stone Bridge scored six runs in the first four innings at Fireman's Field and held on for a 6-2 victory over Loudoun Valley, tying the Vikings for first place in the district with two league games remaining for each team. If the Bulldogs (13-5, 10-2) and Vikings (16-2, 10-2) win out, there would be a one-game playoff to determine the regular season champion and top seed in the upcoming district tournament.
"When we lost to Heritage a long time ago, I told the guys that things sometimes happen for a reason," said Stone Bridge Coach Sam Plank, whose team is riding a nine-game league win streak. "Everyone was predicting before the season started that we were the team to beat, but that got us out of the spotlight a little bit and off the radar screen. We had to fight our way back, and the way we have is a credit to those guys. I'm very proud of them."
The Bulldogs had 10 hits off Vikings junior left-hander Brandon Michon, handing him his first loss of the season. But there were other miscues that hampered Loudoun Valley (16-2), including two early errors that resulted in runs. The Vikings scattered only five hits off Stone Bridge senior Ryan Rohr, scoring in the fourth inning on a two-run home run by second baseman Matt Hamilton.
Rohr struck out 11 Loudoun Valley batters and walked three; Michon struck out four and walked one.
"Brandon didn't have his best stuff tonight, but he battled, and that's what pitching is about," Loudoun Valley Coach Wayne Todd said. "But they just beat us. They were the better team tonight offensively and defensively, and their kid outpitched mine.
"The kids are really disappointed because we had a chance to win the district tonight but we got outcoached and outplayed. People might look at it and think 6-2 was a close game, but I didn't feel like it was close at all."
In the fifth inning, though, Plank saw it a very different way. Down by four runs with one out, leadoff batter Nick vonGersdorff reached after being hit by a pitch, and Michon (2 for 4) singled to put two runners on. Rohr struck out the next batter for the innings' second out, but Hamilton walked next to the plate, fresh off his fourth-inning blast that sailed deep over the left field fence.
Plank opted to walk Hamilton intentionally to load the bases, putting the potential game-tying run at the plate.
"I was thinking that I wanted a chance to redeem myself against that kid since he had just hit one deep on me," Rohr said, smiling. "But that's baseball."
Rohr struck out the following batter to end the inning, getting him swinging on an outside fastball that had troubled several Vikings batters.
"Talk about a gutsy performance by Ryan Rohr," Plank said. "I put him in a back-to-the-wall situation against one of their better hitters, and I guess I should probably have been smacked around for that one, but I had faith in him."
Stone Bridge has games remaining against Dominion (Friday) and Broad Run (Tuesday). Loudoun Valley must face Park View (today) and Loudoun County (Tuesday).
Then -- they both hope -- a playoff.
"This is what high school baseball is about," Plank said. "Every time these two teams play, there is an excitement about the game. If we do meet again in a playoff, you can bet it's going to be even better."
Dominion Wins First District Game
Dominion picked up its first Dulles District victory Tuesday, 7-4, at home over third-place Broad Run. Freshman Anthony DeMott went the distance on the mound for the Titans (2-12, 1-10), recording his first win on a four-hitter.
"My kids held their own team meeting this morning to talk about their lack of motivation as a team and about coming out with more energy to play," said Coach Jay Raines. "They were definitely very excited to play today, and it all clicked for us."
Shortstop Jeff Futrell and center fielder Ryan Reigel led Dominion offensively, going a combined 6 for 6 at the plate with five runs scored and three RBI. Sophomore catcher Chris Whipple was 2 for 3 with two RBI.