There were times during the regular season when Hayfield's Mike Marion and Matt Townsend weren't sure the Hawks would qualify for the Virginia AAA Northern Region baseball tournament, let alone get the chance to make a postseason run.
They aren't wondering anymore.
Yesterday, Marion drove in four runs and Townsend pitched seven strong innings to lead Hayfield to its first region final appearance in the school's 36-year history with a 6-1 victory over Herndon.
"Early this season, I never would have imagined we'd get here," said Townsend, a senior right-hander who improved to 6-3.
The Hawks (14-11) will face the Rams at Robinson on Friday night for the championship; both semifinal winners are guaranteed a spot in next week's state tournament.
"We've got a lot of guys who get it done when it needs to get done," Marion said. "I'm excited because I've never made it this far in anything."
After being shut down by Townsend in the first three innings, Herndon (16-7) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Daniel Chevalier led off with a double and scored on a single by Ben Calacci.
But Marion, a junior first baseman, put Hayfield ahead 3-1 in the fifth inning with a double that scored Matt Lawler, Steve Lloyd and Townsend, all of whom had singled.
Marion's RBI single in the seventh capped another three-run inning for the Hawks. Townsend, who benefited from a solid defense behind him, pitched his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh to clinch the victory.
Robinson Edges Oakton
Thanks to an eighth-inning squeeze play, Robinson claimed a 5-3 victory over No. 5 Oakton and will shoot for its first regional title since 1980.
With Travis Medina on third base, Robinson sophomore Danny Diana popped up a bunt, but the ball was dropped, allowing Medina to score the fourth run for the Rams (19-5). Senior Critter Commins then bunted home Matt McLoud, who was pinch running for Diana, to make it 5-3.
Robinson also got a gutsy performance from right-hander Spencer Wiggins, who earlier in the day was diagnosed with a torn quadriceps muscle in his right leg.
Despite the injury, Wiggins threw 135 pitches before leaving the game in the bottom of the eighth inning. Sophomore reliever A.J. Johnson closed out the win.
"My doctor told me I could go ahead and pitch, but to leave the game if [the injured leg] tightened up," Wiggins said. "If that was the case, I would have left in the first inning."
Oakton fell to 19-7.