Lake Braddock junior Jack Owens knows the Bruins aren’t built quite like they were last year, when they captured their first Virginia AAA state baseball title. Graduation and injuries have taken away some of the Bruins’ power on the mound and at the plate.
But when the Bruins hosted West Springfield on Friday, they were affected most by what was missing from last season’s playoff run — a Northern Region crown.
Behind 11 hits and four West Springfield errors, Lake Braddock needed just five innings to beat the Spartans, 11-1, in Burke, avenging last year’s loss in the region final.
“Our chemistry is the same, but we play a different style of game now. Last year, we had a lot of power, but with some of the guys we lost, we play more small ball now,” said Owens, who went 2 for 4 and scored three runs. “We’re not all power hitters, but the potential is there to where we can move through the lineup.”
Such was the case Friday, as the fourth-ranked Bruins (7-2, 3-0 in AAA Patriot District) scored and recorded hits in every inning but the third. Joe Darcy, who earned the win on the mound, got things started in the first with an RBI single to right field on a check swing. Two batters later, sophomore Matt Supko, who had missed much of the season with a stress fracture in his back, brought home two more runs on a single that dribbled through the infield.
The Spartans (3-5, 1-2), who also graduated several of their starters from a year ago, struggled to muster offense against Darcy, managing just four total hits and failing to give run support during a tough outing for junior pitcher Blake Bird.
“West Springfield is always a tough team to play, so I just came in trying to throw strikes and get ahead in the count so I wouldn’t have to pay as much attention to the base runners,” said Darcy, who allowed three hits and struck out three batters in four innings.
The Bruins pulled away in the fourth, with West Springfield’s third error sparking a four-run inning. Thomas Rogers smacked an RBI double to right field, followed by a two-RBI single by Alex Lewis that brought Rogers and Owens across home plate.
Owens would add another run and RBI in the bottom of the fifth inning, when the Spartans walked consecutive batters with the bases loaded, putting the 10-run mercy rule in effect
“We just put good at-bats together,” Bruins Coach Jody Rutherford said. “When you get to see a guy a second time, especially a left-hander with some good run on his fastball, after we had a lead there, we could be more aggressive with the running game and really got going.”