Prep Notebook: Is Herndon’s Jones Northern Virginia’s Most-Underrated Player?


April 17 - Mike Jones might be Northern Virginia’s best player you’ve never heard of.

Now you have.

Herndon’s senior third baseman hasn’t spent his summers trekking all over the east coast to gain exposure on the showcase circuit, opting instead to play in the local Babe Ruth League. In the fall, he was busy playing for the Hornets’ football team, earning first-team All-Liberty District honors as a wide receiver and kick returner and a second-team All-Region 6D nod as a returner.

After hitting four home runs en route to first-team all-district honors last spring, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Jones has picked up where he left off, slugging his way onto college coaches’ radars this spring. He entered today hitting .429 with five homers, 14 RBI and 19 runs for Herndon, who are 7-4 overall and 2-0 over its spring break trip to Orlando, FL. Of his 18 hits, 11 have gone for extra bases.

“Mike Jones is a great kid and has a bright future in front of him,” Hornets second-year coach Chris Metz wrote. “He is also a very coachable kid. Very quiet and goes about his business on the field.”

While the reserved Jones might prefer a low profile, his athleticism and muscular build strike comparisons to the program’s highest-profile alum, Brandon Guyer, another former two-sport star at the school who is now in his eighth season in the Major Leagues. Jones is able to dunk a basketball while standing flat-footed under the basket, and a quick search of football highlights such as this one demonstrate his agility and speed.

Now, finally on the recruiting radar halfway through is final prep season, Jones hopes to help the Hornets make a push for their first regional appearance since 2015 while continuing to improve his stock with college coaches.

Herndon resumes play in Orlando tomorrow against Brooks College Prep/Chicago International Charter-Hawkins.

Tigers’ Foursome Has Defending Region 3B Champs Rolling

No. 9 Brentsville District had winning streaks of eight and six en route to a Region 3B championship and a berth in the Class 3 state semifinals. The Tigers have carried that momentum into the 2019 season, winning their first nine games before yesterday’s 7-6 loss to No. 8 Stafford in the Eddie Hope “Let’s Play Two” Tournament semifinals.

Brentsville (10-1) rebounded to beat Rock Ridge, 5-2, in today’s third-place game and has now won 24 of 27 games since dropping four of five during a stretch in late March and early April last year. A big reason for its success this spring has been the pitching combination of senior Jake DeLisi and junior Vince DiMauro and a lineup paced by versatile senior infielder Billy Hoad and senior center fielder Luke Binsted, who transferred after earning second-team All-Northwestern District honors at Manassas Park in 2018.

DeLisi is 4-0 with a save and a 0.67 ERA with 32 strikeouts to five walks in 21 innings, while DiMauro is 4-0 with a save and a 1.85 ERA with 53 strikeouts and eight walks. The two right-handers combined for a no-hitter in a 4-0 win over Fauquier on Mar. 25, and also combined to hold Skyline hitless in a season-opening 11-0 win that was shortened to five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.

Meanwhile, Hoad is hitting .472 with four extra-base hits and 18 runs out of the leadoff spot and Binsted is hitting .436 with five extra-base hits and 12 RBI.

The Tigers resume play on Tuesday at Kettle Run.

Teams Navigate Early-Season Injury Bug

Injuries have plagued area teams that entered the season with high hopes.

Riverside, a preseason Northern Virginia Top 10 team after going 19-3 last year, will be without one of its top pitchers, senior David Setien, for the entire season with a labrum injury to his shoulder. After dropping their first five games, the Rams (3-6) have won three of four entering today’s game against Bishop England (S.C.) at the Hanahan Invitational Tournament in Charleston, S.C., and hope to get senior shortstop Carson Swank, a Yale recruit and member of the 2018 NOVA Nine Team, back at the end of the month as he recovers from a broken hand.

Fauquier, coming off a Class 4 state tournament berth, lost 6-foot-6, 225-pound right-hander Lane Pearson to Tommy John Surgery prior to the season. Pearson will pitch next year at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The same fate occurred for Bishop O’Connell’s Nick Liverpool, who will also miss his final prep season after having TJ before going down to play at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina next year.

Two Division I-bound players have also suffered minor injuries - O’Connell junior shortstop and right-hander Eddie Eisert (N.C. State) missed some time due to a hip injury and South Lakes junior shortstop Ryan Dooley (Virginia Military Institute) is out for a few games with a dislocated finger - and Potomac sophomore third baseman Dylan Heil, one of the Panthers’ top hitters this season, is out for at least two more weeks following hernia-related surgery last Friday.

Photo of Herndon’s Mike Jones by Patrick Mills

Prep Notebook: Streaking West Potomac Pulls 2nd Upset, Has Won 5 of 6


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April 8 - For the second time in two weeks, West Potomac upset a team ranked in the Northern Virginia Top 10, taking an early lead and holding on when reliever Alex Grove worked out of a bases-loaded, no outs jam in the bottom of the seventh inning to preserve a 3-1 win at No. 2 Potomac on Thursday.

“[I was] proud of our guys for the preparation they put in to get ready and for battling all the way against a very good team,” Wolverines coach Jimmy Linza said. “We’ve shown ourselves that we can compete with the best, but have to respect every opponent, no matter their record.”

The win was the third straight and fifth in six games for West Potomac (5-2), which beat No. 9 Bishop O’Connell, 4-3, on Mar. 20. The loss was the first of the season for the Panthers (7-1), who had the heart of their order up once they loaded the bases in the seventh only to have Grove retire Julian Cumba, Brody Mack and Braden Mack on two strikeouts and a fly ball.

“A loss is a loss,” Potomac coach Mike Covington texted following the game. “We played poorly tonight.”

The Wolverines posted three runs over the first two innings against Panthers starter Braden Mack, then saw their starter, senior left-hander Jack Bachmore, along with relievers Albert Pallasch and Grove work around constant traffic. Potomac stranded eight runners in scoring position.

Bachmore struck out eight over five innings to earn the win.

Wortman, Eagles’ New Leadoff Man, Sparks 3-Game Win Streak

Colonial Forge has begun to hit its stride, entering the week on a three-game winning streak since coach Dave Colangelo inserted switch-hitting senior catcher and first baseman Jake Wortman into the leadoff spot in his order.

Wortman, a Bucknell University recruit, is hitting .450 and enters today’s game against Clover Hill riding an 11-game hitting streak that dates to last season. He has found success from both sides of the plate, going 6-for-14 batting left-handed and 3-for-6 batting right-handed.

Last spring, Wortman hit .345 with a .494 on-base percentage, two home runs and 13 RBI en route to second-team All-Commonwealth District honors, and he hit .393 with a .514 on-base percentage and 17 RBI as a sophomore in 2017.

The Eagles have scored 40 runs over their three-game streak.

Independence to Begin Search for Baseball Coach This Month

Loudoun County’s newest high school, Independence, will begin the hiring process for its first baseball coach this month. The Ashburn school is expected to advertise the position on the LCPS website later this week.

Independence, which will be the county’s 17th high school, will open this fall. The Tigers have hired a number of coaches for its fall and winter sports teams. Also in place are the school’s athletics director, Ryan Rogers, as well as assistant athletic director, Mat Shannon, the current baseball coach at Stone Bridge.

From 1954-96, LCPS had just four high schools - Loudoun County, Loudoun Valley, Broad Run and Park View. In 1997, Potomac Falls opened, and during the two-decade period between Stone Bridge opening in 2000 and Independence opening this fall, one of the country’s fastest-growing counties will have christened a dozen new high schools.

Photo of Alex Grove courtesy of West Potomac Baseball

Prep Notebook: Pitching Leads Paul VI to Wins in 4 of 5 After Rough Start


April 2 - A young Paul VI Catholic team might be turning the corner after a rugged start to the 2019 season.

The Panthers (5-6) enter today’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference match-up at Bishop McNamara (MD) having won four of five, their lone loss coming in walk-off fashion, 3-2, at No. 1 Battlefield last Wednesday.

A big reason for the turnaround is a pitching staff that has compiled a 1.10 ERA with 37 strikeouts to just six walks in 31.2 innings over the recent five-game stretch. Freshman left-hander Bradley Gagen, who has committed to pitch at the University of Virginia, struck out seven over five innings in an 11-1 win over St. Mary’s Ryken (MD) on Mar. 24 and struck out the side in order to record the save in a 4-2 win over George Mason on Friday, senior Richie Smiechowski went the distance in Tuesday’s 3-2 win over Bishop Ireton, and senior ace Nick Ortega earned his first win after going four innings in Saturday’s 11-1 win over Brooke Point.

Another freshman, Bryce Dolby, closed Sunday’s game out and a third, Aidan McDonald, has settled in as the team’s shortstop and leadoff man.

“Our pitchers have done well, we’ve been in every game we’ve played,” Emerson said. “It was a combination of not being able to put enough offense together and not taking care of the baseball that was hurting us. It still is, but we’re getting better. We’re working hard, playing as a team and finding ways to win.

“Our mix of youth and veteran guys is really starting to jell.”

That chemistry was developed in the midst of several close contests last month. In its six losses, Paul VI led at one point four times. Emerson’s club lost two of those games on walk-offs, and another in extra innings. Eight of the Panthers’ games have been decided by three runs or less.

Now, they will look to continue their winning ways as they begin a five-day stretch in which they travel to McNamara, No. 9 Bishop O’Connell and host Ireton.

“I think they responded well [after the 1-5 start] ... but we still have a long way to go,” Emerson said. “We have a lot left to prove. If we can minimize preventable mistakes, we can play with anyone.”

Riverside’s Swank, Setien Sidelined With Injuries

Riverside has dropped its first five games, and a major reason for the early-season slide is injuries to two of its senior leaders, shortstop Carson Swank and right-hander David Setien.

Swank, a Yale University recruit and member of the 2018 NOVA Nine Team, has a hairline fracture to the Hamate bone in his hand and is out for five more weeks. He had the hand placed in a cast early last week. Setien, who was expected to be one of the Rams’ top starters this spring, has yet to pitch and will likely miss the season with a shoulder injury.

Another key player, junior catcher Jake Miller, continues to recover from an offseason shoulder injury but could return before the end of the season. Riverside travels to Loudoun County tonight.

Six Area Schools Appear in VISAA’s Initial ‘19 Rankings

The Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association released its first Top 10 polls for its three division, and six area schools appear in the state’s private school rankings.

Episcopal (7-1), ranked No. 9 in the Northern Virginia Top 10, was tied with Norfolk Academy for sixth in the VISAA’s Division I poll. The Maroon is followed by No. 8 Bishop O’Connell (5-2) - the No. 9 team in the Northern Virginia rankings - then No. 9 Flint Hill (4-6) and No. 10 Paul VI (5-6).

Highland School (7-3) is ranked No. 3 in the Division II poll, and Fredericksburg Christian (5-4) is No. 6.

Photo of Paul VI’s Nick Ortega by Fred Ingham

Travel Notebook: Miller Shines at Longhorn Stampede; Fielder's Choice, Loudoun Aces Win Titles


March 31 - Champions were crowned in six age divisions at this weekend’s Longhorn Stampede in Loudoun County, and two area teams claimed titles at the 15th annual tournament.

Fielder’s Choice 9U avenged a pool play loss to Henrico’s Team Vinci Edwards in a big way earlier today, beating the team from Henrico, 16-3, in the 9U division final after beating PowerU Fire, 13-1, in the semifinals earlier in the day.

“I’ve got a tough little group of guys,” Fielder’s Choice coach Jason Miller said. “It’s easy when they hit a bunch of doubles, that makes it an easy team to manage.”

Miller’s club totaled 52 runs in four games at the tournament. Braiden Miller (no relation) went 3-for-3 with two triples and five RBI and struck out nine over three innings in the final, and he finished the weekend 11-for-12 with two walks, seven runs, four triples and 10 RBI.

The Loudoun Aces 10U Red swept its four games and beat the Potomac Riverdogs Blue, 11-5, in the championship game today. The Aces advanced to the final after beating the Winchester Hornets, 3-2, on a walk-off sacrifice fly and have won two straight tournaments to begin their season.

In the 11U division, the Loudoun South Eagles posted three shutouts and allowed just one run in four games entering today’s championship game. The Eagles, however, fell to Charlottesville’s Invaders Baseball, 10-9.

NVTBL Teams Begin Spring Season over Weekend

Dozens of teams from across the area began their spring schedules as the Northern Virginia Travel Baseball League opened its season over the weekend.

The league had 33 games yesterday and 154 scheduled today across seven age divisions, from 8U-14U. NVTBL also hosts leagues for high school players in the summer and fall.

Legends Win Title at GMBL’s April Fools Tournament; Other Division Champions to be Crowned Tonight

The Pioneer Legends swept their five games en route to the 10U division championship at this weekend’s GMBL April Fools Tournament in Manassas.

Hosted by the Greater Manassas Baseball League, the tournament included five age divisions and had four of those championship games set to be held tonight. Earlier today, the Legends rallied from a 5-2 deficit entering the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring four runs in the frame to beat the Manassas Cavalry Blue, 6-5, in the 10U final.

In the 11U final, the Marucci Stars Eidemiller scored four two-out runs to win in walk-off fashion, 9-8, over the Stafford Warriors. The Marucci Stars Camp walked off Manassas Cavalry Blue, 7-6, in the 12U final, overcoming a 5-3 fifth-inning deficit. The Cavalry advanced to the final with a walk-off victory of its own, beating Marucci Stars Kempton, 11-10, in eight innings in their semifinal contest.

In the 13U final, the Southern Maryland Senators Kingsbury defeated the Mount Vernon Patriots, 10-3.

Sponsor: The magazine’s Travel Notebook is sponsored by the Northern Virginia Travel Baseball League. For more information on the NVTBL, visit its website at www.nvtblbaseball.org.

Photo of Braiden Miller courtesy of Fielder’s Choice Baseball

Prep Notebook: Vikings’ Todd Becomes 6th Virginia Coach to Reach 500 Wins


March 29 - Wayne Todd, the only area coach to lead multiple schools to state championships, earned his 500th career coaching victory on Thursday night when David Gingras singled home Jared Molnar to give Loudoun Valley a 3-2 walk-off win over rival Loudoun County.

Todd becomes just the sixth Virginia high school coach to reach the milestone, doing so in his 42nd season. The record for most wins in state history is 633, set by the late Tom Harding, who skippered Honaker from 1971-2016.

Todd won 199 games and four region championships at Broad Run from 1978-96, guiding the Ashburn school to back-to-back Group AA state final appearances in 1990-91. In 1991, the Spartans went 20-1 - their only loss was an extra-inning regular-season setback to Park View - before beating Louisa in the Region II final and Rustburg in the state championship game. That team was paced by three all-state selections in Dan Aitcheson, Jason Bagby and Scott Schultz, who went 9-0 with a 0.37 ERA with 144 strikeouts.

In 2014, Todd led Loudoun Valley to a 3A state title - the first by a Loudoun County team since his Spartans won 23 years earlier and the first for the Purcellville program since 1972. His brother, Chris, was a player on the ‘72 team and an assistant on his coaching staff in 2014, when the Vikings went 25-3 and posted 12 shutouts behind a staff led by Jack DeGroat and Will Reed.

Loudoun Valley (4-1 overall, 1-0 Dulles District) plays next on Tuesday at Park View.

Unplayable Conditions Force Hayfield to Move Practices, Games to South County’s Turf Field

While their field on campus remains off limits due to wet field conditions that have remained undiagnosed since the fall, Hayfield’s players and coaches are making the best of a unique situation this season.

The Hawks’ varsity and junior varsity teams have moved their operations to the turf field at South County Middle School, trekking 10 miles each day while school and county officials continue to work to identify the issue causing the drainage problem. Hayfield’s director of student activities, E.W. Noland, secured the turf field for practices during the week from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and for each of their home games this spring.

“We assumed it was a loose sprinkler head or something to do with the irrigation system as that happens from time to time and it’s a pretty easy fix,” Hawks coach Mike Shore wrote in an email. “At this point they have still not figured out what is causing all of the water to be on the field and that is extremely frustrating as we are now almost in April with no solution.”

Shore said his players have maintained a positive mindset despite the unideal logistics and a lack of game experience without a scoreboard, public address announcer or concession stand.

“I know they are not thrilled with it, especially the seniors,” the coach wrote. “[But] they have taken it in stride and seemed to have adapted well, and are grateful and thankful that they have a reliable field to go to every day.”

Hylton Takes Unorthodox Approach to Stop Scoring Runs vs. Woodbridge’s Freedom

Freedom-Woodbridge pitchers issued 17 walks while hitting four batters over the game’s first three innings in a 40-0 loss to C.D. Hylton on Wednesday.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Bulldogs (4-2 overall, 3-0 Cardinal District) began the frame by conceding three straight outs, directing their hitters to step on home plate while squaring to bunt to record automatic outs. The game was called after the top of the fifth.

The national record for most runs scored by one team is 109, set by Atlantic (IA) in April 1928. The most scored in the past 50 years was 63 by Dufur (OR) in May 1977. The Virginia High School League does not list a record for most runs in a game.

Photo of Loudoun County coach Wayne Todd by Scott Shepherd

Prep Notebook: No. 8 Westfield Runs Shutout Streak to 4


March 27 - Rob Hahne couldn’t have asked for a better start this spring.

Westfield’s sixth-year coach saw his No. 8 Bulldogs improve to 4-0 after posting their fourth consecutive shutout in a 15-0 win over visiting Washington-Lee last night, serving notice that they will be very much in contention for a first Concorde District championship since 2010.

“We are very pleased with how our pitching and defense has performed,” Hahne said. “Our focus has been preparing for a grueling [district] schedule that has high-end teams.”

Westfield has shown it can roll out much more than just Joe Clancy and Danny Leo, its two senior right-handers who give Hahne one of the area’s best 1-2 combinations on the mound. The Bulldogs have had seven pitchers get work during its current 22-inning scoreless streak, combining for 35 strikeouts while allowing just five hits over that stretch.

The staff has had plenty of support behind it with a defense that has yet to commit an error, and two sophomores - outfielder Nick Lottchea and corner infielder Kevin Mackmin - are pacing a lineup that has produced 44 runs and shortened three games to five innings via the 10-run mercy rule. Lottchea is 4-for-7 with four walks, eight runs, six RBI and four steals, while Mackmin has gone 6-for-11 with three doubles and seven RBI.

“One of our offensive focal-points this year is to forget about batting averages,” Hahne said. “[Hitting instructor] Steve Springer was in town and talked to our team about how batting average is a trap. We are focused on hitting balls hard and putting in competitive at-bats.”

The Bulldogs open their district schedule on Friday against Oakton.

Saunders, Shepard Spearhead Yellow Jackets’ Fast Start

Osbourn Park has won three straight and four of five to begin its season, and a major reason for the early success starts with the top two batters in the Yellow Jackets’ lineup.

Leadoff man Shane Saunders, who hit .484 with 14 steals and earned All-Region 6D outfield honors as a sophomore last spring, is hitting .529 (9-for-17) with three walks, six runs and seven steals. And Shepard, a freshman catcher who committed last month to play at Indiana, has been scorching to start his high school career while hitting .556 (10-for-18) with six runs, four extra-base hits and seven RBI.

Osbourn Park has applied constant pressure on opposing batteries, swiping 39 bags through four games, including 19 in a 14-2 win over Hayfield on Friday. The Yellow Jackets open their Cedar Run District schedule at home tomorrow against Stonewall Jackson.

Hornets, Seahawks Both Unbeaten Entering Friday’s Rivalry Game

When Herndon and No. 7 South Lakes renew their longtime crosstown rivalry on Friday in the Liberty District opener for both teams, the game could have a different feel as both teams enter with unblemished records.

While the Seahawks have found success under coach Morgan Spencer, earning regional berths in each of his first four seasons after a 15-year drought, the Hornets have struggled in recent years. Things could be turning around, however, as second-year coach Chris Metz’ team improved to 5-0 after yesterday’s 1-0 win over Edison. Now, Herndon will get its biggest test to date when they welcome South Lakes (4-0) in the first of their two matchups this season.

The Seahawks, led by Virginia Military Institute recruit Ryan Dooley, have run off wins against Patriot District teams Fairfax, South County and W.T. Woodson after a 6-5 extra-inning win over Chantilly in their season opener, and despite being hit hard by graduation look to again be one of the Liberty favorites. Whether the Hornets join them in that category is a question that could be answered on Friday.

Photo of Westfield’s Travis Blee by Fred Ingham

Prep Notebook: Bruins Start Thomas Era With Sweep of Concorde Favorites


March 21 - Lake Braddock’s first season under new coach John Thomas is off to a fast start, as the No. 5 Bruins unveiled their talented duo of sophomore left-handers in wins over Concorde District favorites Chantilly and Madison.

Last Friday, Andrew Schaeb struck out five and allowed one hit over four innings, with senior Lyle Miller-Green earning the win in relief thanks to senior shortstop Bobby Leitzel’s go-ahead single in the fifth inning in a 2-1 win over the then-No. 7 Chargers. On Tuesday, Lake Braddock put together an impressive 12-2 dismantling of No. 2 Madison on the Warhawks’ home field, benefitting from four errors that led to eight unearned runs but also getting multiple-hit nights from three players.

Mike Weidinger, the other half of Thomas’ second-year southpaw combo, scattered two hits and fanned four over four scoreless innings, with junior Noah Adcock-Howeth going the final three innings. Schaeb and Jay Cassady each had two hits and two RBI, and Leitzel also chipping in with two hits.

“We’re obviously happy to start the season with a couple of wins,” Thomas said. “But more importantly, it’s been great to see guys getting their first real opportunity at this level go out and assert themselves against quality competition early in the season.”

Miller-Green, the Patriot District’s Pitcher of the Year in 2017 and a second-team Class 6 all-state selection last year, will be deployed in a closer’s role assuming the likes of Schaeb, Weidinger and Cassady - a junior lefty - are able to get the Bruins through four or five innings each night.

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound slugger also has a different role offensively, batting lead off as Thomas attempts to dissuade teams from pitching around him. It’s worked so far, as Miller-Green is 3-for-7 with a walk and three runs through the first two games.

For 2nd Straight Year, North Tops Occoquan in Region Challenge

In the second Occoquan (6C) vs. Northern (6D) Region Challenge, organized by Chantilly coach Kevin Ford, the Northern teams won 14 of 20 games played between the two regions.

The participating teams were seeded in a vote by the coaches and pitted against teams of similar caliber, with each club getting one home game. The biggest winner during the Challenge was the Liberty District, which saw its teams win nine of 10 games - mostly in match-ups with Gunston District teams. The Gunston was 0-8.

The Concorde District (5-5) and Patriot District (6-6) spent most of the Challenge beating up on each other, though the Patriot took three of four in games featuring teams from the preseason Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll.

Paul VI’s Early Struggles Continue in WCAC Opener vs. McNamara

Paul VI Catholic is in danger of missing the VISAA Division I state tournament for the first time since 2003 and having its first losing season since 2002 after falling to Bishop McNamara, 6-2, in its Washington Catholic Athletic Conference opener yesterday.

The Panthers (1-5 overall, 0-1 WCAC) have struggled to produce runs and shaky defense has hurt them, in particular over the past two games. Coach Billy Emerson’s club is averaging just 2.8 runs per game and errors have led to 14 unearned runs, including nine over the past two days in a 5-1 loss to Flint Hill on Tuesday and in yesterday’s loss to the Mustangs.

Senior left-hander Nick Ortega worked around 10 hits to get through seven innings yesterday before McNamara scored twice in the top of the eighth on relievers Bryce Dolby and Aidan McDonald. An error and passed ball led to both of those runs being scored as unearned.

Under Emerson and former coach Jeff Nolan, Paul VI has made 15 consecutive state tournament berths, winning four state titles and eclipsing the 20-win mark seven times over that stretch.

Oakton’s Richards, Whipp Combine to No-Hit Woodson

Senior left-hander Seth Richards and reliever Jack Whipp combined on a no-hitter in Oakton’s 3-0 win over visiting W.T. Woodson last night.

Richards, who will pitch at Villanova next year, fanned seven while walking two over five innings to earn the win, with Whipp striking out four and walking one while earning a two-inning save. Richards retired nine of the first 11 batters he faced - the two runners reached on an error and dropped third strike - before he issued a walk to Roman Dominguez to begin the fourth.

Nick Morgan was 2-for-3 with two RBI to pace the Cougars (2-1), which gets a big test on Friday against No. 5 Lake Braddock. The Cavaliers (0-3) have been shutout in two of their three games.

Photo of Lake Braddock’s Mike Weidinger by Fred Ingham

Prep Notebook: Potomac Falls’ Savino Deals in ‘19 Debut


March 18 - Nate Savino wasted little time in giving us a signature moment in 2019. The only question now is how many encores will the talented Potomac Falls left-hander have this spring.

Savino, a junior committed to Virginia and a member of the NOVA Nine Team as a sophomore last year, struck out 18 without a walk while tossing a one-hit shutout in a 5-0 win over then-No. 4 Riverside on Friday. The southpaw needed just 81 pitches while recording his fourth career outing with 15 or more strikeouts, flashing a fastball that sat 93-95 MPH and reached 97 in addition to command of his two off-speed pitches. His strikeout total was one short of his career high of 19, set last May when he tossed a no-hitter against Broad Run.

The Potomac District and Region 5C Player of the Year last year, Savino is regarded as one of the nation’s top pitchers in his class and earlier this month was named as one of 80 players who will participate in the Major League Baseball-sponsored Prospect Development Pipeline League this summer. In 2018, he went 7-2 with a 0.82 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 51.1 innings while hitting .446 with 10 doubles.

Savino’s next start is likely on Friday at Rock Ridge.

With Back-to-Back Shutouts to Begin Season, No. 10 Westfield is Armed and Dangerous

Much of the buzz around Westfield this offseason centered on its returning senior right-handers, Joe Clancy and Danny Leo, the main reasons the Bulldogs are considered a contender to win their first Concorde District championship since 2010.

Apparently, Nick Lottchea is a third Bulldogs arm area teams will need to deal with this spring.

The sophomore left-hander struck out seven over five scoreless innings on Saturday, permitting just two hits in a 5-0 win over Falls Church a day after Clancy fanned six in three innings in a 12-0 season-opening win over T.C. Williams. Leo is lined up to make his first start of 2019 tomorrow against Hayfield.

Jason Cheifetz and Travis Bee each tossed two scoreless innings in relief in the wins, and Westfield’s deep staff has coach Rob Hahne’s club off to a fast start as it prepares for a rugged district schedule. The Bulldogs entered the Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll this week for the first time since midway through the 2017 season, and look to have good balance both on the mound and at the plate, were they’ve gotten second baseman Jake Hockett and center fielder Derek Furr back from injuries.

No. 3 Eagles Gain Split Over Grueling 7-day, 4-game Stretch

Freedom-South Riding is just 2-2 after tonight’s 8-7 loss at No. 1 Battlefield, but the No. 3 Eagles have shown they are prepared to take the field with anyone as they eye a return to the Class 5 state tournament.

Over a seven-day stretch, Freedom split four games to begin its season. Coach Mark Wrighte’s club went on the road last week and outlasted Loudoun Valley, 2-0, in nine innings before beating then-No. 4 Riverside, 7-5, on Thursday. The Eagles dropped a 12-8 decision to visiting Liberty Christian Academy, one of the state’s top private school teams, on Saturday before losing on a walk-off wild pitch tonight in Haymarket.

Things don’t get much easier, as they’ll likely face Virginia Tech recruit Nick Lockhart tomorrow in another non-league test before beginning their Potomac District schedule next week. Freedom saw another Virginia Tech-bound pitcher in Michael Grupe for six innings in the win over Loudoun Valley, and then there’s the matter of Potomac Falls’ Nate Savino that they’ll have to contend with at some point this spring.

Stafford Wins Season-Opening Commonwealth District Tournament

In response to last year’s tournament being rained out, the Commonwealth District administrators decided to hold its championship event at the beginning of the season. That said, Stafford might very well be the first district champion crowned in March in state high school baseball history.

The Indians (2-0) edged Colonial Forge, 2-1, in Thursday’s semifinals before getting five-plus innings from Robbie Baker and clutch relief work from Tucker Sullivan and Joe Tolson in a 1-0 win over rival North Stafford (2-1) in Friday’s final.

Baker fanned seven and scattered two hits before Sullivan came on to fan five straight Wolverine batters and Tolson recorded the final out. Logan Steigerwald scored on a ground out by Jimmy Baker in the second inning to provide what would be the game’s lone run.

Photo of Nate Savino courtesy of Potomac Falls Baseball

Prep Notebook: Former Osbourn Skipper Howell Joins Staff at Patriot


March 14 - Keith Howell, who led Osbourn to three district and regional championships and a berth in the Group AAA state final in 2005, has joined the coaching staff at Patriot as an assistant this spring.

The longtime skipper brings experience and a winning pedigree to Josh Steinberg’s staff, which lost former head and assistant coach Sammy Serrano after the 2018 season. Steinberg and Howell are joined on staff by pitching coach Sean Cheetham and Matt Holman.

“Keith Howell brings a wealth of successful experience to the table and the program feels very fortunate to add a talented coach to the staff,” Steinberg wrote via text message. “We have been able to bounce a lot of ideas off him in regards to team defense, practice plans and drill work, and that has opened our minds to another perspective.

“His character and reputation adds tremendous value.”

Howell guided the Eagles program for 19 years over two stints - from 1996-2012 and then again from 2015-16 - leading Osbourn to 13 winning seasons and the 20-win plateau four times. The Eagles won a school-record 24 games in 2002 and then again in 2005 and were 252-160 overall under Howell.

Patriot has gone 50-19 in its first three seasons under Steinberg, who was named the 6A North Region Coach of the Year after leading the Pioneers to the region final and state semifinals in 2017. Patriot is 1-0 this spring after opening the season with an 11-1 win over C.D. Hylton on Tuesday.

Two Top 5 Clashes Highlight Opening Week Slate

Two matchups between teams ranked among the top five in the Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll will be held over the next two days.

Tonight, No. 3 Freedom-South Riding (1-0) travels to face No. 4 Riverside at 6 p.m. in Leesburg. The Eagles opened their season with a 2-0 win over Loudoun Valley on Tuesday, and are in the midst of a tough early-season stretch in which they face the Rams tonight, private school power Liberty Christian Academy tomorrow, and No. 1 Battlefield on Monday.

Freedom is coming off a 22-5 season last spring, when coach Mark Wrighte’s club won the Region 5C championships and advanced to the Class 5 state semifinals before falling to Potomac. Coach Sam Plank’s Rams will be opening their season after going 19-3 last year

Tomorrow night, No. 2 Madison is scheduled to travel to No. 5 West Springfield, the defending Class 6 state champion, in the season opener for both teams. The Warhawks are coming off a 15-7 season and are entering their 24th season under longtime coach Mark ‘Pudge’ Gjormand, while coach Jason Olms’ Spartans are coming off a 24-5 that saw them win the Region 6C championship and the fourth state title in program history.

Rams Area’s Top-Ranked Team in PBR Preseason Super 25 Poll

Riverside is ranked No. 9 in  Prep Baseball Report’s preseason Super 25 Poll of teams from Virginia and Washington, D.C., the top-ranked team from Northern Virginia.

The Rams are followed by No. 11 Potomac, No. 13 Madison, No. 16 Battlefield, No. 19 Fauquier, No. 20 Bishop O’Connell and No. 24 Highland School as area teams appearing in the poll.

To view PBR’s preseason poll, click here.

Photo of Keith Howell courtesy of Osbourn Baseball

College Notebook: Local Hurlers Help Key No. 3 CNU’s Undefeated Start


March 5 - Five area hurlers have played key roles on what has been one of the country’s top pitching staffs as undefeated Christopher Newport has risen to No. 3 in the latest Division III rankings.

In Saturday’s 11-5 win over visiting Marietta (OH), junior right-hander Teddy Herbert (Washington-Lee) posted four scoreless frames before running out of gas in the fifth, but still earned his second win as the Captains’ lineup reached double-digits in runs for the sixth time in eight games. In Sunday’s 14-1 drubbing of Gallaudet, junior Kyle Darmstead (Brentsville District) started and went three innings, sophomore Carter Strain (Lake Braddock) followed with three scoreless innings in relief, and Tyler Jumper (Robinson) pitched a perfect ninth.

Herbert has emerged as a starter after being used sparingly over his first two seasons at the Newport News school, posting 13 strikeouts over 11.2 innings. Darmstead, Strain, Jumper and Andrew Suppa (Robinson) - who earned the save in a 4-3 win over Randolph-Macon in a top-10 match-up last week - have totaled 17 strikeouts and posted a cumulative a 1.00 ERA in 18 innings over 13 appearances.

CNU’s staff has posted a 2.00 ERA in 72 innings under pitching coach Ron Frazier, who is in the first year of his third stint with the program. The Captains are at Eastern Mennonite today, then will host Hampden-Sydney on Thursday and Catholic on Saturday.

W&L’s Volpicelli Begins Sophomore Campaign With 8-Game Hitting Streak

Jason Volpicelli (Paul VI Catholic) had an eight-game hitting streak to open the season and the sophomore entered the week hitting .486 for Washington & Lee.

A middle infielder by trade, Volpicelli spent much of last season at third base and hit .300 in 150 at-bats during his rookie campaign at the Lexington school. He’s started the 2019 season as the Generals’ regular third baseman and has been one of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference’s best hitters, compiling five multi-hit games and nine RBI. He was tied for eighth nationally in base hits entering last weekend.

Volpicelli had back-to-back three-hit games in wins over Averett on Feb. 9-10 and totaled four hits and a career-high six RBI in a 15-13 loss at Pfeiffer (N.C.) on Feb. 16. He connected on his second career home run, his first of the season, on Feb. 21 at Emory. His hitting streak came to an end when he flied out as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning on Sunday at Ferrum.

Costello Homers Twice in The Mount’s Slugfest Win over Villanova

Zack Costello (Heritage) connected for two home runs and drove in three runs in Mount St. Mary’s 19-16 win over Villanova on Sunday in Port Charlotte, FL and the senior catcher entered today’s game against Georgetown with hits in each of the five games he’s played in.

Costello, who is 7-for-18 (.389) with six RBI, is in his second season with the Mountaineers after transferring from Frederick (MD) Community College. He hit .245 with a .388 on-base percentage and nine RBI in 98 at-bats last year. His best collegiate season came as a freshman at FCC in 2016, when he hit .270 with five homers and 35 RBI in 43 games.

Player of the Week: Zach Tsakounis, William & Mary (St. John’s/Arlington)

William & Mary freshman Zach Tsakounis (St. John’s) stymied Virginia in a midweek road victory and has been named the magazine’s Collegiate Player of the Week, sponsored by Northern Virginia Orthodontics.

The Arlington native struck out seven and allowed one run on four hits over 6.1 innings in Tuesday’s 9-3 win over the Cavaliers, and the left-hander is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA in 11 innings entering this afternoon’s game at Norfolk State. He was named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Rookie of the Week.

Tsakounis was a two-time first-team All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference selection at St. John’s, helping the Cadets win WCAC titles in 2017-18.

News & Notes: Kyle Wrighte (Freedom-South Riding) went 4-for-4 with a home run and two RBI as William & Mary completed a sweep of High Point and improved to 8-1 with an 8-6 win on Sunday. … Logan Driscoll (Lake Braddock) hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning to give George Mason a 7-6 victory over Princeton on Sunday, giving the Patriots a series win over the Tigers. Driscoll went 2-for-3 with three runs, two walks a double and two RBI after going hitless in the first two games of the series. … Hank Biggs (Woodgrove) and Stephen Johnston (C.D. Hylton) combined to shutout New Rochelle (N.Y.), 7-0, to complete a doubleheader sweep on Saturday. Johnston also hit a grand slam in the game and is 6-for-12 with 10 RBI through four games. ... Brett Stallings (West Springfield) went 4-for-5 with a double, triple and two RBI in Frederick (MD) Community College’s 14-9 loss at Lincoln Land (IL) yesterday.

Sponsor: The magazine’s College Notebook is sponsored by the R&D Baseball Academy. For more information on the academy, visit its website at www.rdbaseballacademy.com.

Photo of Teddy Herbert courtesy of CNU Athletics

Prep Notebook: West Potomac’s Rulapaugh to Miss Season After Elbow Surgery


March 4 - West Potomac senior right-handed pitcher Tyler Rulapaugh, a George Mason University recruit, had surgery last Wednesday to move a displaced nerve and will miss the entire season, coach Jimmy Linza confirmed this morning.

"My disappointment is only in that he will miss his senior year,” Linza wrote via text message. “We wish him a quick and full recovery."

Wednesday’s surgery moved a nerve that had grown in the wrong place and was creating discomfort when Rulapaugh pitched, an ailment that also limited him to 10 innings last spring. Linza said Rulapaugh had initially indicated a desire to pitch through the pain and have the surgery after the season, but George Mason’s coaches requested he have it sooner so he’d be fully recovered in time for his freshman campaign with the Patriots next spring.

Rulapaugh is 4-5 with two saves, a 3.20 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 45 innings over his two varsity seasons with the Wolverines.

Despite the loss of Rulapaugh, West Potomac should still have the deepest staff in the Gunston District. Senior right-hander Jimmy Curley, who has signed with High Point, was a second-team All-Region 6C selection after going 6-1 with a 1.60 ERA and 48 strikeouts to just five walks in 39.1 innings last year. The Wolverines also return two lefties, senior Jack Bachmore, who will pitch at Lynchburg, as well as talented junior Adam Fischer.

Former Hayfield Assistant Terrien is Freedom-Woodbridge’s New Coach

Joe Terrien, who spent the past three seasons as the junior varsity coach at Hayfield and 12 seasons overall as a coach with the Hawks program, was named as the new coach at Freedom-Woodbridge last month just prior to the season beginning.

Terrien becomes the ninth coach in 10 years to lead the Eagles, who went 1-18 last spring in its lone season under former coach Rich Davila. The magazine confirmed his hiring over the weekend via area coaching sources. Freedom’s director of student activities, Steve Bryson, did not return multiple attempts requesting confirmation of the school’s new coach.

Terrien has also coached football at Hayfield and has served as the golf coach at Lee. He works as a special education teacher with Fairfax County Public Schools.

Gunst, Aker, Anchors from Paul VI’s 2012 WCAC, State Championship Team, Keynote Preseason Dinner

Mark Gunst and Mitchell Aker, who helped Paul VI Catholic win the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) and VISAA Division I state championships in 2012, served as the keynote speakers at the Panthers’ annual First Pitch Dinner on Saturday.

Gunst and Aker, who went on to pitch at James Madison and William & Mary, respectively, helped Paul VI go 23-11 and sweep the WCAC and state titles for the second time in school history. Gunst was a second-team all-conference selection that spring, with Thomas Beauchamp and Richard Mancari earning first-team honors.

Aker is entering his fourth year at the professional level, having signed to pitch this season for the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the independent Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball.

Photo of Tyler Rulapaugh courtesy of West Potomac Baseball

Pro Notebook: Parker Making Most of Opportunities in Angels’ Camp


March 2 - As he attempts a return to the Major Leagues, former Colonial Forge and University of Virginia standout Jarrett Parker has had an impressive start as a non-roster spring training invitee with the Los Angeles Angels.

Parker, 30, entered the weekend 4-for-8 with five walks, two doubles and a home run in five games. He’s posted a .692 on-base percentage and has hit in the middle of the Angels’ lineup when he’s been penciled in by first-year manager Brad Ausmus. The outfielder hit a solo homer off Milwaukee reliever Bubba Derby on Monday, then went 2-for-3 with an RBI double as Los Angeles’ cleanup hitter the following day.

After beginning 2017 as the Giants’ starting left fielder, he had his season cut short when he broke his collarbone crashing into the outfield fence at Oracle Park in San Francisco. He was out of baseball last year while continuing his recovery and rehab and was signed to a minor league contract by the Angels this winter.

Parker is considered a candidate for the club’s fourth outfield spot and as a left-handed option off the bench. Los Angeles has incumbent starters Mike Trout, Justin Upton and Kole Calhoun as well as Michael Hermosillo on its 40-man roster. Calhoun, who also hits left-handed, hit just .208 but had 19 homers in 137 games last year.

Justin Bour (Westfield), another free agent signing by the Angels this offseason, will make his spring training debut today after missing the first two weeks with a hamstring injury. Bour is expected to platoon with Albert Pujols at first base and serve as an option at designated hitter and as a left-handed pinch hitter. He is hitting third and starting at DH in today’s game against Cincinnati.

Snyder’s Early Success Against Lefties Helps in Bid for Nationals Roster Spot

Brandon Snyder (Westfield) entered the day having appeared in each of the Nationals’ seven spring training games, seeing the majority of his time in right field and also playing the second half of a game at first base.

Signed in the offseason to a minor league contract, the 32-year-old was the lone non-roster invitee in the lineup for Washington’s first game on Sunday. Snyder is 3-for-12 with a double, homer and two RBI and all three of his hits have come off left-handers, which is notable as he competes for one of the club’s bench spots.

Snyder appeared in two games last year with the Tampa Bay Rays and is attempting to reach the Major Leagues with his sixth team since being drafted in the first round by Baltimore in 2005.

Area Players Begin Reporting to Minor League Spring Training

Minor league players have begun reporting to spring training with their respective organizations, including several from Northern Virginia.

Some clubs opened minor league camps yesterday, and others will begin to do so over the next week. Minor league spring games will begin in mid-March, with opening day across the various levels scheduled for Apr. 5.

News & Notes: Brandon Guyer (Herndon) hasn’t played since going 0-for-3 in the White Sox’ first game of camp on Feb. 23 against the Dodgers. The former Rays and Indians outfielder is battling a sore right elbow, according to SoxOn35th.com. … In his first outing of the spring, Taylor Clarke (Broad Run) started and struck out two over two scoreless innings in Arizona’s game on Wednesday against the Padres.  … J.B. Bukauskas (Stone Bridge) has fanned three and permitted just two base runners over four scoreless innings in two relief appearances with the Astros. In his most-recent outing on Thursday, the 2017 first-round pick fanned three over two innings against the Marlins.

Sponsor: The magazine’s Pro Notebook is sponsored by the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. For more information on the Blue Crabs, visit their website at www.somdbluecrabs.com.

Photo of Jarrett Parker courtesy of Associated Press