Stone Bridge 12, Loudoun Valley 3
When Stone Bridge opened four years ago, newly hired baseball coach Sam Plank held a meeting for all prospective players.
"I stood there with a bunch of 110-pound ninth-graders looking at me and I told them that we were going to play for championships here," Plank said. "That's how I left the meeting. I knew it was going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of hours in the offseason, but this is why you play the game."
The Bulldogs already have two Virginia AA Dulles District regular season titles to their credit, but they added their first district tournament title with a 12-3 victory over visiting Loudoun Valley last night in Ashburn.
The win was the 15th in 16 games -- and its third consecutive over the Vikings -- for Stone Bridge and its 13 seniors. It also marked the team's 50th win in its four-year history.
Stone Bridge (19-5) will host a Region II quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. Monday. Loudoun Valley (20-4) will travel to Turner Ashby at 7:30 p.m. for its quarterfinal matchup.
"I'm an old-school coach who thinks that every game means the world, even if it's just Wiffle ball in the backyard," Plank said. "You have to take that mentality into every game. And even though we already knew we were going to regionals, it's nice to take this kind of momentum with us into Monday. Hopefully we can keep it rolling."
The Bulldogs got off to a slow start last night, falling behind 2-0 in the top of the second when Bobby Stakes led off with a solo home run over the center field fence and Nick vonGersdorff hit an RBI single. But Stone Bridge's reserves overheard a Loudoun Valley player yell, "I know a team that didn't bring their 'A' game!" and promptly relayed that message to the starters when they returned to the dugout.
"That just got us going," said first baseman Joel Chavez. "It's always a big game when we play Valley because it's such a big rivalry, but that just made it worse. It made us mad."
With two runners on and two out in the bottom of the second, Chavez blasted a triple off the center field fence to knot the score at 2. Leadoff hitter Sean Ryan followed with a home run over the right field fence for a 4-2 Bulldogs lead.
"It was the only way I could out-do Joel," Ryan said, laughing.
Chavez and Ryan were both 3 for 3 at the plate with a combined six runs scored and seven RBI. The Bulldogs added five runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth, totaling nine hits. They also were helped by five Vikings errors.
"When you're coaching against them, every time you look up at the plate you think, 'Here comes another one,' " Loudoun Valley Coach Wayne Todd said. "If someone shuts down this team, they're going to have to be awfully good. Their lineup is just so tough."