Bell Asks for Ball, Gets Wildcats Rolling in Unbeaten Run at D.C. Classic

April 20 - Scott Rowland had an idea of what he wanted to throw at No. 3 Lake Braddock on Monday at the D.C. Baseball Classic.

But then Hunter Bell sent him a text message on Sunday night and asked for the ball, convincing the Centreville coach to start his 6-foot-6, 215-pound right-hander against one of the area’s top teams rather than hold him until later in the week.

Bell rewarded his coach for having faith in him, as the Virginia Commonwealth recruit limited the Bruins to one hit while striking out nine before being lifted with two outs and two on in the seventh inning. Eric Bohenek came on and got a bases-loaded strikeout to give the Wildcats a 2-0 win, one of three shutouts they would post while outscoring opponents, 37-3, over five games at the tournament.

“He was good,” Rowland said of Bell, who pitched two innings to earn the save in a 4-2 win over South County in Centreville’s first tournament game on Saturday. “I was supposed to pitch him the next day, but I said, ‘Alright, you made my decision’. He competed for us.”

The Wildcats (11-3) also picked up shutout wins over Washington-Lee and Stonewall Jackson and beat Narbonne (CA), 5-1, over their impressive week. Bell, Bohenek and junior Colby Shriner didn’t allow an earned run in 23 innings and combined for four wins and two saves, and sophomore left-hander Casey Bach fanned six in five shutout innings against Washington-Lee.

Meanwhile, juniors Thomas Trinca and Gavin Collins spent the week filling up the bases and stuffing the box score. Trinca, who won the tournament’s Home Run Derby on Saturday night, went 6-for-12 with a walk, four extra-base hits, four RBI and four steals. He’s hitting .462 with seven doubles, three triples and 10 RBI and riding a 10-game hitting streak. Collins, meanwhile, went 6-for-14 while scoring six runs and driving in four more.

“We had some timely hits, both [run-scoring] hits against Lake Braddock were with two outs,” said Rowland, who also credits his team’s play behind its pitchers during its recent run of seven wins in eight games. “We’ve had strong pitching, but also strong defense. We’ve played really well defensively the past week.”

Notes: The coaches determined prior to the tournament that two teams from the same league would not play each other in a championship game, and would instead play another opponent. Centreville would have played Concorde District rival No. 5 Westfeld (12-2), which went 4-1. The Bulldogs had a better runs-allowed ratio than Lake Braddock (13-2), which also went 4-1, thus would have played in the final … Westfield posted three shutouts at the tournament and has totaled nine now this spring … The Bulldogs’ Derek Furr and Kevin Mackmin each went 6-for-10 and they combined for seven extra-base hits and 13 RBI … W.T. Woodson finished the tournament with a three-game win streak after dropping 10 of its first 11 games.

All-Tournament Team: Centreville’s Colby Shriner, Hunter Bell, Eric Bohenek, Thomas Trinca and Gavin Collins; Westfield’s Derek Furr, Kevin Mackmin and Nick Lottchea; Chantilly’s Dylan Siesky and Connor Pennell; Lake Braddock’s Bobby Leitzel and Lyle Miller-Green; Grace Academy’s Ryan Angles and Riley Jackson; George Mason’s Jay Nesson; Narbonne’s Jeremiah Jones; South County’s Tre Williams; and Stonewall Jackson’s Ronaldo Pulinario.

Wednesday’s Results:
Westfield 14, Gonzaga, D.C. 0
Chantilly 7, South County 4
Centreville 13, Stonewall Jackson 0
Lake Braddock 10, Washington-Lee 8
W.T. Woodson 6, Narbonne, CA 3
Archbishop Spalding 13, Falls Church 2

Photo of Centreville’s Hunter Bell by Michael Greene