Osbourn Park 1
Embarrassed by a recent loss to Osbourn Park that forced a one-game playoff last night to determine the Virginia AAA Cedar Run District's regular season champion, No. 2 Potomac responded in definitive fashion with a 12-1 victory over the Yellow Jackets in Manassas in a game shortened to six innings by the 10-run mercy rule.
The top four hitters in Potomac's lineup went 1 for 14, but the bottom five went 8 for 13. The Panthers (19-2) batted around in the third and sixth innings, scoring five runs in each.
Senior John Adams threw a four-hitter, walking five and striking out three to improve to 7-0.
By winning the regular season district title, Potomac locked up the automatic berth into the Northwestern Region tournament and will enter the district tournament as the top seed.
To some Panthers, having to play a tiebreaker game to determine the regular season champion -- Osbourn Park (12-8) and Potomac finished with 4-2 district records -- was quite the ego blow for a team that has been ranked most of the season.
"It gets to you, but when you play a game like we did last time, when you play as bad as we did, it's kind of our fault," Adams said of a 5-2 loss on Tuesday at Osbourn Park. "We deserved to [have to] come back and play them again."
Said Panthers senior center fielder Mike Giarrizzi: "We know we play better than anyone in this area. We know this. We're the best team in this area. But we have problems of not performing [that way] every single day. There's no doubt in my mind this is the best game we've played in two years."
Potomac Coach Mike Covington was not about to use such flattering terms, but he had to have liked freshman catcher Sean McCauley picking off two runners at first, and diving junior second baseman Bobby Potter flipping the ball to alert junior shortstop Matt Rainbolt for a nifty 4-6-3 putout with no one on base in the fourth. That same duo started an inning-ending double play in the fifth.
The productivity in the five through nine spots in the order also was pleasing. Rainbolt, sophomore Harry Williams and senior Brandon Clark each had two hits; Clark's two-run double capped a rally in the third inning in which the bottom five strung together five two-out hits.
Osbourn Park stumbled coming off its most impressive win of the season. Yellow Jackets pitchers walked nine batters, hit one and balked twice. Two base runners were picked off, and errors in the third and sixth innings aided Potomac rallies. The Panthers scored five runs in the sixth on one hit.
"We're better than what we were tonight," Yellow Jackets Coach Rod Hodgson said. "If you don't bring your 'A' game [against Potomac], 12-1 is going to happen."