After W.T. Woodson junior Mike Bianucci mashed a fastball deep to left field in the third inning last night, the Cavaliers' best player slowed to a jog halfway down the first base line as the ball appeared to sail wide of the foul pole.
But the home plate umpire ruled the blast a two-run home run -- Bianucci's seventh of the year -- and it proved to be the catalyst for the Cavaliers, who scored six more in the inning en route to a 12-4 victory over McLean in a Virginia AAA Liberty District semifinal at Madison.
W.T. Woodson (17-5) is seeking its first district tournament title since 1990. The Cavaliers will face the winner of the semifinal between No. 4 Madison and Lee, which was suspended in the bottom of the fifth inning because of lightning with the Lancers ahead of the two-time champion Warhawks 4-2. The game is scheduled to resume today at noon.
The championship game will be played Monday at Madison at 7 p.m. All four semifinalists have qualified for next week's Northern Region tournament.
"It was a big play in the game," W.T. Woodson Coach Chris Warren said of the disputed home run, which turned a one-run deficit into a one-run lead for the Cavaliers. "I had a bad view. It certainly turned the tide."
"I thought it was foul," said McLean Coach Joe McDonald, whose team fell to 12-9. "That big inning killed us."
The umpire's call drew the ire of the McLean fans and McDonald, who immediately jumped from his chair in the dugout to argue. W.T. Woodson went on to grab an 8-1 lead, with right fielder Jimmy Gibbons (3 for 3) and catcher Jon Quigley each driving in a pair of runs.
Cavaliers right-hander Brian Kramer took it from there, limiting the Highlanders to three runs on four hits over the final four innings.
"I didn't think it was going to go foul," Bianucci said. "But, hey, it got us going."
Posting double-digit scores is becoming a trend for W.T. Woodson, which has tallied 74 runs the past five games, an average of 14.8 per game.
"We know what to do when we get people on base," senior center fielder Mike Salinas said. "Everyone has just been swinging the bat really well, top to bottom."
Warren added: "We've hit throughout the lineup the last couple of weeks. We just have to make sure we get good pitching and good defense. Hitting comes and goes, but the other things don't. . . . Hopefully, it will stay the way it is."
In the second game, Lee (10-8) scored three runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead. Madison (18-3) was at bat and had already scored to make it 4-2, and there were runners at first and third with one out when the umpires ordered everyone off the field.
Lee senior Stuart Searle had singled and scored twice; Madison's senior Nicky Tomasetti had an RBI single and had also scored.
Madison will be shooting for its fifth consecutive district final appearance when the game resumes today.