The unique combination of joy, anxiety and stoicism that early June can provide for high school baseball teams lucky enough to still be playing is represented well by what West Springfield Coach Jason Olms told his team after it won the Virginia Class 6 Region C title.
“Enjoy it for 24 hours,” Olms said after the Spartans beat Lake Braddock, 7-1.
It was a momentous, impressive win for West Springfield, which had lost to the Bruins three times this season. Senior Calvin Pastel pitched a complete game and added a two-run homer in the third inning. But Tuesday afternoon, the Spartans will be playing the new biggest game of their season: a state quarterfinal meeting with Chantilly. So the celebration had to be measured and quick.
“Chantilly is always one of the best-coached teams in the area, and that’s going to win you a lot of games this time of year,” Olms said. “We need to go out and take that game, because they’re not going to give it to us.”
Elsewhere in the Class 6 bracket Tuesday, Battlefield will face Lake Braddock after beating Chantilly for the Region D championship. The Bobcats battled back from an early deficit and used a five-run sixth inning to secure a 7-4 win. Junior Carter Cunningham went 3 for 3, including a key triple in the sixth.
“They’re a resilient group,” Coach Jay Burkhart said. “That was a tough week. A grind. We’re just crossing things off our goal list.”
Riverside is out after Fauquier held off its seventh-inning rally in an 8-6 win in the Class 4 Region C semifinals. The Falcons went on to beat Woodgrove in the regional title game. Woodgrove will face Salem in the Class 4 quarterfinals; Fauquier gets to play Amherst County.
In the Class 5 bracket, Region C champion Freedom-South Riding, winner of its past 11 games, will face Halifax County on Tuesday. Freedom will face the winner of the quarterfinal matching Potomac and Briar Woods. Potomac earned its spot in the tournament with a Region D semifinal win over Albemarle and then beat Halifax, 4-2, for the title.
“We were obviously excited to win, but they understand there’s bigger fish to fry,” Coach Mike Covington said.
That would be Briar Woods, which the Panthers will meet in the state quarterfinals for the second consecutive year. They will likely face Wilson Ayers, the Falcons’ ace, for the second year in a row, too. Last year, Ayers struck out 10 in a complete game to end Potomac’s season. But Covington is hoping his team can find another gear to keep its season alive.
“We haven’t played our ‘A’ game yet this season,” he said. “And this is certainly a big hill to climb.”