Falcons Advance in Baseball

Fauquier's opening game in the Region II baseball tournament followed a pattern similar to the majority of the regular season: The Falcons cobbled together a few runs and counted on a shutdown pitching performance. On Monday night at home, the combination produced a 3-1 victory over Western Albemarle.

Fauquier (17-6) had nine hits -- all singles, including four in a row in a three-run third inning -- and junior right-hander John Sinclair yielded two hits to Western Albemarle.

It was a performance that reminded Coach Paul Koch about what his team had done right during a 13-game winning streak that helped Fauquier win the Northwestern District title. It also helped erase the bad taste left a week earlier by a 10-0, five-inning loss to Sherando in the district tournament semifinals.

"I told the guys that that's why you win the regular season," Koch said. "If you have a bad day and don't get it done, you still get to play" in the region tournament.

Seniors Matt Orner and Dan Zyla each had two hits, and Orner turned in the Falcons' most crucial defensive play. Western Albemarle's Martin Powley hit a low, soft line drive toward left-center field with two outs in the top of the sixth, but Orner read the flight of the ball immediately and made a diving catch to end the inning. Had it dropped, the Falcons lead would have been cut to 3-2.

"I'm really confident out there," Orner said. If the ball is hit "into my area, I'll catch it. I want the ball hit to me."

Bulldogs' Rohr Gets Relief

Stone Bridge senior pitcher Ryan Rohr suffered a strained hip flexor last week but had been feeling fine Tuesday in the Bulldogs' Region II quarterfinal against Waynesboro -- until he left the mound.

Rohr hurried to field a bunt in the top of the third inning and slipped. He battled through two more innings before confessing to his coaches that the fall had tweaked the injury.

"I told him that's what teammates are for: to pick you up when you're down," Stone Bridge Coach Sam Plank said.

Senior Jeff Lee, the team's starting third baseman, was called in to relieve Rohr (9-0) and picked up a save in the Bulldogs' 5-1 victory. Lee threw two hitless innings.

"Jeff Lee hasn't pitched a whole lot because he's such a good third baseman, but he can throw with anybody," Plank said. "And he gave us two big innings tonight. When we call Jeff's number, he shuts the door."

Senior All-Met Andrew Winslow led the Bulldogs (20-5), going 2 for 3 with a run scored. Winslow also stole two bases in the game, improving his season total to a perfect 26 for 26.

Vikings Eliminate Orange County Again

Loudoun Valley's softball players handed out decorated gift bags filled with candy and a variety of other goodies to their visitors from Orange County before the start of a Region II quarterfinal Tuesday in Purcellville.

That was where the third-ranked Vikings' generosity ended.

For the second straight year Loudoun Valley (21-2), the defending Virginia AA champions, ended Orange County's season in the first round of the region tournament, this time with a 7-1 victory.

"We've had a real good relationship with Orange County -- we scrimmaged them to start the year -- so I thought we should do something nice for them," Loudoun Valley Coach Joe Spicer said of the surprise gifts. "We've had a lot of good contests with them . . . and they came a long way to be here."

The game was tied at 1 entering the bottom of the third inning, and the Vikings scored the go-ahead run on an RBI single by All-Met outfielder Alyson Moler.

Loudoun Valley had eight hits and was helped by four Hornets errors, added three more runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth to secure the win. All-Met shortstop Jennifer Everhart led the Vikings, going 4 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Everhart's twin sister, Jessica, and Moler each drove in three runs.

"It's always hard when you're trying to defend a title, but we try not to think about that," Jennifer Everhart said. "We know that we have to want it as much this year as we did last year, so that's what we're focusing on."

Raiders' Conner Pitches Shutout

Loudoun County junior pitcher Sam Conner underwent an MRI on her right (throwing) shoulder last week, one day after assuring the No. 7 Raiders of a berth in the Region II softball tournament. The doctors cleared her to continue pitching, and on Monday she helped her team to a 2-0 victory over William Monroe in a region quarterfinal.

"She was amazing," Raiders Coach Rich Pell said. "She came back with a clean bill of health and went out there and threw a great game. I know she's sore and tried, but we've got what will hopefully be another two weeks to play, and then we'll make sure she gets some rest."

Conner threw a two-hitter against the Greene Dragons, striking out 11 batters and walking none. Loudoun County (18-4) scored once in each of the first two innings; junior Tara Campbell had a sacrifice fly, and freshman Paige Knudsen drove in the second run with a fielder's choice.

"We played solid defense, and Sam pitched a heck of a game," Pell said. "We did enough to win. That's what matters most at this point."

-- ANGELA WATTS

and DREW VANESSELSTYN

Fauquier's Zac Caito, right, is greeted at the plate by teammate Andrew Johnson (10) during a 3-1 Region II victory over Western Albemarle. Junior starting pitcher John Sinclair gives up two hits as the Falcons improve their record to 17-6.