“I was really worried about how a weeklong of practice [without a game] would go,” Hylton Coach Craig Flesher said.
Then after waiting a week to play a game, there was another break in routine: The Bulldogs’ bus was late Tuesday, so they arrived at Woodbridge about 30 minutes before the scheduled start of the highly anticipated game.
As it turns out, Hylton might want to take long breaks and make late arrivals more often. In a thorough 9-1 victory, junior right-hander Alec Bettinger threw a one-hitter, every Hylton starter had at least one hit or RBI, the team committed no errors and in the process the Bulldogs snapped an eight-game losing streak in the series to move into first place in the district.
Hylton (15-3, 8-2) had finally pieced together the type of all-around outing it had been seeking.
The University of Virginia-bound Bettinger struck out seven and walked five, three in the third. The only hit he gave up was a solo homer to senior Chris Cardwell to lead off the bottom of the fifth.
Hylton collected 11 hits, including two each from sophomore Brady Zinda, junior Justin Sneed and Bettinger, and scored six runs in the fifth and sixth innings thanks in part to four Woodbridge (14-5, 8-3) errors. All nine starters scored.
“If we can hit the ball like we did tonight,” Bettinger said, “we’re going to do very good things.”
As the regular season winds down, the Cardinal is one of the few up-for-grabs districts in Northern Virginia. Here’s a quick look at the other races, or lack of, headed into games Wednesday night:
AAA Patriot: Lake Braddock (17-1, 12-0) has two regular season games remaining but already has clinched. The Bruins have outscored Patriot competition124-16. The league might not be quite as strong as in recent seasons, but that domination is still impressive: The Patriot produced state champion West Springfield in 2010 and state runner-up South County last season, and three different programs have won the past three district championships. Lake Braddock’s lone loss was 5-2 to McLean on April 3.
AAA Concorde: Westfield (14-4, 7-2), after dropping its first two league games, has won seven straight to clinch a district that last week had a four-way tie for first. The Bulldogs have earned an automatic bid into the Northern Region tournament. Throw out a 9-2 win over Centreville and Westfield’s other eight district games have been decided by a modest 24-17 margin.
AAA Liberty: Stone Bridge (14-4, 11-1) has a two-game lead on McLean (13-6, 10-3) and can clinch the regular season title with a win over Marshall or Fairfax. The Bulldogs have outscored the opposition 116-34 and have thrown eight shutouts.
AAA National: Yorktown (16-3, 12-1) has sewn up the regular season title. The Patriots split one-run games with Hayfield and beat Stuart by two runs but have won their remaining 10 district games by an average of 9.7 runs.
AAA Commonwealth: With two games to play, Colonial Forge (14-4, 12-2) has a lead on North Stafford (11-6, 11-4) and Mountain View (12-6, 10-4), teams the Eagles have swept this season. Three of Forge’s past five wins have been by 3-2 scores.
AA Dulles: Potomac Falls has won 14 straight and can clinch the regular season title with a win over Tuscarora or Park View. The Panthers have outscored opponents 120-35 and have not lost since a 2-1 setback against second-place Woodgrove (13-4, 10-3) on March 20.