Even so, as far as Driscoll was concerned, the Virginia AAA Northern Region quarterfinal Monday afternoon was as meaningful as any postseason game he had played. Third-ranked Lake Braddock faced No. 1 Madison, winner of 22 consecutive games, on its home field.
So when the Bruins found their way to a 9-6 win, it felt like more than one step closer to another state tournament berth.
“That feels like a championship game. That feels like winning states again,” Driscoll said. “They’re a very good team. They’re very competitive. They were getting into it. We were getting into it. Those are the games that are fun, that you like to play.”
The game was not always aesthetically enjoyable, with both teams committing an uncharacteristic five errors. Lake Braddock never trailed, scoring three runs in the first off Madison senior ace Dan Powers and three more in the fourth, thanks in part to three errors, to break open a 3-3 game.
Every player in the Lake Braddock batting order had at least a hit, an RBI or a run. Sophomore second baseman Nick Neville went 3 for 4 with two RBI in the ninth spot. Driscoll and senior third baseman Alex Lewis had two hits each.
“At the beginning of the year, I kind of took [hitting ninth] as an insult,” Neville said. “But I realize how good our team really is, and I’m making the best of it.”
Senior left-hander Thomas Rogers, who said after Tommy John surgery he is pitching pain-free for the first time in his life, threw into the fifth inning before approaching his pitch count of 75. He struck out five and walked three before yielding to junior lefty Colby Wallmow and senior Nick McIntyre.
“We just wanted to come in with no pressure because we were the underdog, and it just worked out for us,” said Rogers, who hurled his team’s state quarterfinal and state championship victories last season. “It was kind of a weird feeling, but I kind of like it because nobody really expected us to win.”
That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but as a defending state champion that has won 17 or more games in each of the past 10 years, Lake Braddock (20-4) rarely is in a position to play the underdog card. Monday’s game was the first meeting since 2007 between the two winningest teams in the region over the past decade-plus.
Madison (22-2), its season bookended by losses, had a runner thrown out at third to end the first inning and had runners picked off in the second and fifth innings. The Warhawks had two runners on without scoring in the sixth and managed only one run after their first two batters reached base in the seventh.
In the other Northern Region quarterfinals:
●Marshall senior Mike Evans struck out four batters in two innings of relief to secure a 5-4 win over Centreville at Madison. The Wildcats got two runners on in the bottom of the seventh inning but could not tie the game. Marshall will play Lake Braddock in a region semifinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Madison.
●Senior second baseman Joey Bartosic went 4 for 5 with three RBI to lead Oakton to a 13-5 win over Stone Bridge at Lake Braddock. Freshman outfielder Joe Rizzo went 3 for 3 and drove in two runs. Senior Matt Gregor threw six innings in the win.
●South County junior Patrick Campo hit a bases-loaded, one-out single in the bottom of the 13th inning to lift the Stallions to a 4-3 victory over Langley at Lake Braddock. The game was scoreless through the first five innings, 2-2 after seven and 3-3 after 11. South County will face Oakton at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Madison in a region semifinal.
The winners Wednesday will qualify for the state tournament.