Madison junior outfielder John DeFazio entered the batter’s box in the bottom of the 12th inning with an opportunity to end what had been a horrid night at the plate. DeFazio was 0 for 5 and the Warhawks needed a solid hit with junior Owen Socher on second to end the game.
DeFazio delivered with a run-scoring single to right field that scored Socher for a 7-6 win over West Potomac in a Virginia 6A North quarterfinal. The game lasted 4 hours 15 minutes in Vienna, and there was a 20-minute delay because of a power outage in the seventh when the daily timer clicked off the lights.
The win kept the second-ranked Warhawks from falling in the regional quarterfinal for the second straight season, Madison lost to Lake Braddock, 9-6, in a Virginia AAA Northern Region quarterfinal a season ago. The Warhawks will host Conference 6 foe McLean in Wednesday’s 6A North semifinal, their third meeting with the Highlanders.
“We talked about it all year in offseason workouts,” Madison Coach Mark “Pudge” Gjormand said of last year’s season-ending defeat. “It’s one thing you can never get back, but you learn from the past. We didn’t want it to be like last year.”
Senior Nick Brady (Princeton signee) pitched six strong innings in relief, and allowed two runs on three hits with one walk. He struck out five batters to pick up the win. Madison junior southpaw Brian Eckert got the start but had severe blisters on his throwing hand that caused bleeding and forced him out after four innings. Eckert struck out eight, and allowed two runs on six hits with no walks.
“He’s a calm head,” Gjormand said of Brady. “And last night he was unbelievable.”
Madison fell behind 2-o in the top of the first inning and had to claw back from 4-3 and 6-4 deficits in the marathon matchup. With his team trailing 6-4 in the 11th with two outs and two strikes, catcher Michael Nielsen lined a two-run home run to left to knot the game at 6.
The Wolverines grabbed a hit in the top of the 12th but couldn’t muster any runs. In the bottom of the inning, Socher led off the inning with a walk, and a sacrifice bunt advanced him to second. DeFazio then grabbed the walk-off hit to extend Madison’s season to Wednesday’s semifinal.
“These guys absolutely rake,” Gjormand said of West Potomac’s lineup. “I tip my hat to Coach Jim Sullivan.”