SALEM — Half an hour into the Riverside baseball program’s first trip to the state tournament, progress came to a halt. The bus broke down on Route 7, and the team waited for an hour on the side of road for a replacement.
Once the Rams and their bats finally arrived at Kiwanis Field, there were no signs of mechanical trouble in the lineup. Like a finely tuned machine, Riverside churned out 15 hits in an 18-6 win over Brookville in a Virginia 3A semifinal.
“It’s all about our approach at the plate. Attack fastballs, you’re going to get one at some point in the at-bat,” sophomore Nick Connolly said. “We keep it high-intensity in practice so we’re ready to step into another high-intensity situation like this.”
Noise echoed from the Riverside (24-3) dugout from the start, and the ruckus peaked during a monster second inning. After taking a 3-2 lead on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore David Setien that was cheered like a home run, the Rams produced four hits with two outs to score six more runs.
“That energy starts in the dugout and flows out to the batter’s box and the base paths,” said sophomore Carson Swank, who had three RBI and scored three runs. “We’ll get some good food in us and get some sleep and try to keep it going tomorrow.”
Riverside will face Turner Ashby in the Virginia 3A state championship game Saturday at 4 p.m. On the back of eight straight wins, the Rams will look to bring a state championship back to Leesburg in the school’s second year.
“The original goal has always been win the state championship,” Connolly said. “We set that goal in September.”
Another Loudoun County baseball team advanced to a state final Friday, as Briar Woods topped Menchville 6-1 in a 5A semifinal at Westfield. The bottom of the order sparked the Falcons’ offense in the second inning, as ninth batter senior Tyler Germanowski hammered a two-run double. Two batters later, Alex Bjornsen singled Germanowski home for a 3-0 lead that Wilson Ayers protected with seven strikeouts over 5⅔ innings.
Briar Woods (19-7) had never won a region playoff game before this season. The Falcons and their 10 seniors will meet Halifax County on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Robinson in the state final.
“There were some low points in this season where we weren’t playing good baseball,” Coach Jason Miller said. “It takes a lot of luck to get this far, but we’ve got a tough group.”