Kamide’s Korner: Harper’s (Br)exit Could be Snyder, Guyer’s Gain

March 5 - Count me among those disappointed that Bryce Harper chose to sign with the Phillies and won’t be returning to the middle of the Nationals’ order this year. For me, Harper’s at-bats were must-see anytime I was able to take in a Nats game.

Several years ago, I took a date to a game and we were late arriving to Nationals Park. Of course, the Baseball Gods punished me and we missed Harper homering in the first inning. A few innings later, painfully-slow bartending at the Red Porch cost me his second upper-deck bomb that day.

After that, whenever I was watching or listening to a Nats game, I ensured I was tuned in to his at-bats. I also stopped seeing that young lady - us baseball guys are superstitious, after all, and there was just too much bad juju involved with missing two Harper homers while attending our first game together.

The emotion shown by area baseball fans over the past week demonstrates how polarizing a figure Harper was while in D.C. - love him or hate him, you were and likely will continue to be drawn to him. He’s a generational talent and has that “it” factor that makes it hard to take your eyes off him when he’s in the batter’s box. Who knows if the Nats will be better or worse off without him - you certainly won’t struggle to find commentary online covering that topic - but one thing is for sure, I’ll miss watching him wear the Curly W on his cap.

While Harper’s exit has resulted in varying emotions locally, it could lead to some positive news for Northern Virginia fans.

Over the winter, Washington signed former Westfield star Brandon Snyder to a minor league deal and invited him to big league camp as he tries to make the Majors with a sixth team. If Harper had re-signed with the Nats, that likely would have sealed Snyder’s fate as a Triple-A guy to start the year. Instead, Snyder, who in spring training has logged more time than anyone in Harper’s old post in right field, could make the club as the Nats’ fifth outfielder and a backup option at both corner infield spots.

Snyder has certainly taken advantage of Harper’s absence. His go-ahead grand slam was the difference in a 10-6 win over the Twins on Saturday, and he entered the day hitting .286 with six RBI in 18 at-bats this spring.

Also affected by Harper’s decision is Brandon Guyer, the former Herndon and UVA standout.

The White Sox were rumored to be in on the Bryce Sweepstakes (as well as Manny Machado), but by not landing him, Guyer’s chances of making the club improved after he was signed in early February to a minor league deal with an invite to camp. Guyer, the former Rays and Indians outfielder, is back in the lineup today as a DH after missing 10 days with right elbow soreness, and he is hoping to make Chicago’s roster in a platoon role against lefties.

Like many baseball fans in our area, I’ll miss Harp. But I’ve already moved on, and I’ve found a new guy that’ll motivate me to get to the ballpark on time. I’ve got my Juan Soto T-shirt on order.

Hopefully, I’ll also have my Snyder and Guyer T-shirts on order early next month.

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

Pro Notebook: Guyer Inks Minor League Deal with White Sox

February 7 - Brandon Guyer on Tuesday agreed to a minor league contract with Herndon High School graduate Brandon Guyer, who will receive an invite to the club’s Major League camp when spring training begins later this month.

Guyer, 33, will attempt to revitalize a big league career that began in 2011 with the Tampa Bay Rays and includes an appearance in the World Series with the Cleveland Indians in 2016. Injuries led to an inconsistent season last year with the Indians, who did not pick up his team option for 2019.

The outfielder, who has earned a reputation for his ability to get on base and hit left-handed pitchers, hit .206 with a .300 on-base percentage, seven home runs and 27 RBI in 221 plate appearances in 2018. He’s a .250 career hitter, and has batted .274 with a .376 on-base percentage in 792 career plate appearances against lefties. In 2015-16, he led the American League in back-to-back seasons in times getting hit by a pitch, doing so a total of 55 times.

Should Guyer make Chicago’s opening day roster, it could be as a platoon option in a corner outfield spot with the left-handed swinging Daniel Palka, who hit 27 homers in his rookie campaign last year but hit just .200 with two homers and 34 strikeouts in 83 plate appearances against lefties. The White Sox currently have five outfielders on their 40-man roster, Palka along with Nicky Delmonico, Ryan Cordell, Luis Alexander Basabe and highly-regarded prospect Eloy Jimenez, who is expected to start the season in the minor leagues.

Guyer’s signing with the White Sox marks a return to Chicago. The Cubs drafted him in the fifth round in 2007 out of the University of Virginia.

Right-Hander Aker Signs with Winnipeg of Independent American Association

Mitchell Aker (Paul VI Catholic) signed late last month to pitch for the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the independent American Association.

The 24-year-old right-hander will be entering his fourth professional season after spending last year with the Evansville Oilers of the Frontier League, where he was named an All-Star en route to a league third-best total of 19 saves. Aker pitched in the independent United Shore Professional Baseball League in 2016 and with reached the Double-A level in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ system in 2017.

The 12-team American Association was established in 2005 and is based in the central United States, with Winnipeg as the league’s lone Canadian team. The Goldeyes have won three of the past eight league championships, but are coming off a 2018 season that saw them finish fifth in the North Division after winning the AA title the previous season.

Award-Winning P-Nats Marketing Staff Will Honor 36 Years at Pfitzner Stadium

In the club’s final season at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, the Potomac Nationals will give a nod to its 35 seasons at the ballpark with several promotions during the 2019 season.

The club’s staff, which has won two consecutive Carolina League Marketing & Promotional Excellence Awards, has filled Potomac’s 70-game home slate with promotions that include five bobblehead giveaways, a legendary celebrity appearance lineup, three Scout Nights, seven custom theme jersey auctions, wide-ranging theme nights, and Fourth of July festivities and fireworks.

"The P-Nats are prepared to put on an excellent show in 2019 that will honor the decades of success our franchise, our fans, our corporate partners, our community partners, and our booster club members have enjoyed in Prince William County at The Pfitz," P-Nats General Manager of Operations, Aaron Johnson, said in a release by the club.

Potomac will move to a new ballpark in Fredericksburg in 2020. To view the release and the club’s entire promotional schedule, click here.

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 Brandon Guyer courtesy of USA Today

Washington-Lee Honors Northern Virginia’s Best Major Leaguer, Inducts McQuinn Into Hall of Fame

January 23 - George McQuinn was once considered a potential heir to Lou Gehrig, but the St. Louis Browns snapped him up in the Rule 5 Draft in 1937 when it looked like the man known as the Iron Horse may never relinquish his post at first base for the New York Yankees.

After five years in the minor leagues - the last two or three of which would likely have been spent in the Major Leagues with most clubs - McQuinn’s dream of suiting up in Yankee pinstripes looked to be crushed. Meanwhile, in 1939, Gehrig’s record consecutive games streak ended when he was forced to retire due to the disease that is now named after him.

While New York’s first basemen struggled during the early- and mid-1940s - never hitting higher than .293 - the 1929 graduate of Washington-Lee High School went on to make four All-Star teams in his eight seasons with the Browns, who in 1953 moved to Baltimore and became the modern-day Orioles. The left-handed swinging first baseman hit over .300 twice with the Browns, had a 34-game hitting streak in 1938, hit for the cycle on July 19, 1941, and in 1944 led them to their lone American League pennant.

He hit .438 during a six-game loss in the World Series to the crosstown Cardinals that October, capping a season he played while carrying a heavy heart as two of his brothers were serving overseas in World War II. One of them, Kenneth, was killed in the Normandy invasion that June.

After a down year while battling back pain with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1946, Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack told the 36-year-old McQuinn he was done and it might be time to consider becoming a coach. He wasn’t convinced, and upon reaching out to new Yankees manager Bucky Harris, told him he could help the club regain its perch as the best team in baseball after missing the postseason the previous three seasons.

McQuinn was granted an invitation to spring training, and not only did he finally realize his dream of playing with the Yankees, he was named an All-Star in each of what would be his final two seasons. Harris later recalled, “Now I know McQuinn, and have known him for several years. I figured if he had enough confidence in himself to come to me like that I couldn’t lose trying him.”

In 1947, he hit .304 with 18 home runs and 80 RBI and teamed with the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto to lead the Yankees to a seven-game win over the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series. DiMaggio later said he was the key to that team’s success.

Last Friday, nine decades after McQuinn - who also starred for the school’s basketball team - was named the program’s first captain and led the Generals to three consecutive Northern Virginia championships, he was inducted into Washington-Lee’s Athletics Hall of Fame. He was joined by Harry Thomas, a 1972 graduate who is the father of current Lake Braddock coach John Thomas, in a six-person class that pushes the school’s Hall of Fame membership to 43.

McQuinn, who passed away at the age of 68 on Christmas Eve in 1978, was represented at the induction ceremony by his two daughters, Gina and Vicki, along with his grandson, Alex, and his family. His daughters were born at the end of his playing career and don’t recall much from McQuinn’s playing days. Their memories instead centered around the likeable man who spent his post-playing career as a minor league manager and scout and as the owner of a sporting goods store in Arlington.

“I know that from the time be grew up, he wanted to be a Yankee from the beginning,” Gina said. “And there are some great stories that my husband [Bill] talks about with things that happened. He was sort of kept back in the minor leagues.”

When he opened McQuinn’s, Gina recalled several of his former teammates made the trip into town for a promotional event at the store, which was located on Highland Street in Clarendon. “When he had it opened, he had a bunch of the Yankees come down,” she said.

“He was an easygoing, wonderful man. To us, he was just dad.”

After a year off from baseball, McQuinn would spend nine seasons as a manager in the Boston/Milwaukee Braves’ farm system, and his 1950 Quebec team was named one of the 100 greatest minor league teams of all-time in 2001 by the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues. That team went 97-40 and won the Class C Canadian-American League title. In spring training during the early 1950s, he helped work with future Hall of Famers Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron while they were coming up in the Braves’ system.

Vicki recalled taking the train to Idaho for a summer after school ended when her father was managing the Boise Braves, Milwaukee’s Class C Pioneer League club. “My strongest baseball memories of him were when he was managing [in Boise] because it was a whole lot different than Arlington,” she said. “It was just wonderful, we got to meet the players. Before that, we were just too young to be around it.”

One of his catchers in Boise was Bob Uecker, who would catch in the big leagues for six years but is known better as the longtime radio broadcaster for the Milwaukee Brewers who played the colorful Harry Doyle in the Major League movies.

After spending nine seasons managing in the Braves’ system, McQuinn would serve as a scout with the Washington Senators and Montreal Expos from 1959-71, when he retired after 42 years in professional baseball. He continued to operate his sporting goods store and sponsored numerous Arlington youth league teams, including Thomas’ Little League team in the late 1960s.

“He was such a nice man,” Gina recalls of her father. “He was very modest. He didn’t really talk much about himself or his career.”

Photo of George McQuinn, pictured at left along with Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, courtesy of McQuinn Family

Pro Notebook: Pirates Name South Lakes Grad Toregas as Manager at High-A Bradenton

January 23 - Wyatt Toregas continues to climb the managerial ladder in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor league system, as the organization announced last weekend that the South Lakes High School graduate has been named the skipper of their High-A Florida State League affiliate, the Bradenton Marauders.

Now in his fifth year as a minor league manager, the 36-year-old Toregas guided the Single-A West Virginia Power over the past two seasons after managing the short-season Single-A  West Virginia Black Bears in 2015-16. He led the Black Bears to the New York-Penn League championship in his first season.

A first-team Class AAA All-State selection as a senior at South Lakes in 2001, Toregas then caught for three seasons at Virginia Tech before an eight-year professional career. He appeared in the Major Leagues with the Cleveland Indians in 2009 and with the Pirates in 2011.

Toregas served as a scout and coach in the Pittsburgh system from 2012-14 before being hired to manage the Black Bears in 2015.

George Mason’s Kalish Gets Invite to Big League Camp with Royals

Jake Kalish hopes to become the seventh player from George Mason University to play in the Major Leagues, as the left-hander has received an invite to attend Major League camp during spring training with the Kansas City Royals.

Kalish, 27, was drafted in the 32nd round by the Royals after his redshirt senior season with the Patriots in 2015. He has finished the past two seasons at Triple-A Omaha, and last year he was 8-8 with a 3.88 ERA over 127.2 innings between Omaha and Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

The New Jersey native’s older brother, Ryan, played in parts of four seasons as an outfielder with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs between 2010-16.

Blue Crabs Invite Marshall Grad Blackstone to Training Camp

Kent Blackstone, who hit .336 with 29 doubles, 12 home runs and 65 RBI in 79 games during stints in the independent Pecos League and Pacific Association last year, has been invited to attend training camp with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.

The former Marshall and George Mason infielder initially impressed the Blue Crabs staff at the pro day workout held at R&D Baseball in Herndon earlier this month. After a private workout last weekend, they extended an invite to Blackstone along with catcher Andy Mocabee, a Georgia native who played locally with the Herndon Braves of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League during the summers in 2015-17, and to pitcher Miguel Nunez, a former Philadelphia Phillies farmhand who works out at R&D Baseball.

The Blue Crabs play in the Atlantic League, regarded as one of the top independent leagues in the country.

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 Wyatt Toregas courtesy of West Virginia Black Bears

Pro Notebook: Snyder Signs Minor League Deal With Nationals

January 16 - Brandon Snyder signed a minor league contract last week with the Washington Nationals, who the Westfield High School graduate was also employed by in 2017.

Snyder, 32, has appeared in the Major Leagues with five teams, most recently in a short stint with the Tampa Bay Rays last April. He went 1-for-6 in two games with the Rays, spending the majority of his season at Triple-A Durham.

He will provide organizational depth as both a corner infielder and outfielder, and could start the season at Washington’s new Triple-A affiliate in Fresno, CA.

A first-round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles out of high school in 2005, Snyder previously played in the big leagues with the Orioles, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves. His father, Brian, pitched in the Majors with the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics in the 1980s.

Snyder, who will get an invite to Washington’s Major League spring training, spent the entire 2017 season with the Nationals’ then-Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse, hitting .263 with 23 home runs and 77 RBI in 121 games. He has hit 147 career minor league homers.

Wahl Traded to Brewers in Broxton Deal

Bobby Wahl, who led West Springfield to the Group AAA state championship in 2009 and has pitched with the Oakland Athletics and New York Mets over the past two seasons, was traded on Jan. 5 to the Milwaukee Brewers.

The 26-year-old right-handed reliever was one of three players dealt by the Mets in a trade that netted outfielder Keon Broxton, who eclipsed 20 homers and 20 stolen bases in 2017 but struggled last year. Wahl, acquired by New York in the trade that sent closer Jeurys Familia to the A’s last summer, has made 14 relief appearances in the big leagues. He boasts a fastball that sits 96-97 MPH and reached 100 MPH last year.

Two prospects, 21-year-old pitcher Adam Hill and 18-year-old shortstop Felix Valerio, were the other two players sent to Milwaukee in the deal.

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 Brandon Snyder courtesy of Getty Images

Year in Review: 2018’s Top Highlight Videos

December 28 - The magazine was on location to cover several big games and tournaments in 2018, and captured or had submitted video for some of Northern Virginia’s biggest plays of the year.

In the third story in our Year in Review series, the magazine explores the top Northern Virginia baseball plays caught on video over the past year:

South Lakes’ Taylor Completes Perfect Game

On Mar. 16, South Lakes senior Josh Taylor tossed the area’s lone no-hitter in a 6-0 win over Hayfield. Taylor struck out 13 - including the final seven batters he faced - and didn’t reach a three-ball count until the final hitter he faced. He needed just 75 pitches to retire the 21 batters, and used the outing to spark a season that saw him win the Liberty District Pitcher of the Year award and share the Region 6D honor with Marshall’s Patrick Halligan. Video via ClutchPlay Pictures.


Ortega Records Save, Sends Paul VI to State Semifinals

On May 15, Paul VI Catholic junior left-hander got the final three outs to earn the save in the Panthers’ 3-2 win over Flint Hill in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division I state quarterfinals. Ortega’s relief work came after starter Thomas Russell struck out eight over six innings en route to his eighth win of the season. Paul VI would see its season end in the semifinals, dropping a 7-2 decision to Norfolk Academy.

Colgan’s Johnson Flashes Athleticism, Leaps Catcher

On May 16, Colgan sophomore outfielder Ryley Johnson - with no clear path to home plate - demonstrated tremendous athleticism by flipping over Gar-Field catcher Eric Rodriguez in attempt to score. Johnson, however was tagged by Rodriguez while in mid-air and called out, and the Indians escaped with a 1-0 win behind Marty Neal’s two-hit shutout in their Cardinal District quarterfinal matchup in Manassas. Video via Prince William Sports and Entertainment.

Future UVA Hurlers Sanchez, Eikhoff Square Off in Regionals

On May 23, two future University of Virginia pitchers faced off when Centreville and senior right-hander Cristian Sanchez traveled to face Patriot and junior righty Riley Eikhoff in a Region 6D quarterfinal contest in Nokesville. The matchup didn’t yield a pitchers’ duel as those in attendance had hoped for, as Eikhoff was lifted after surrendering five runs (four earned) over 1.1 innings in the Wildcats’ 6-1 win. Sanchez worked out of multiple jams and earned the decision after allowing one run on three hits and four walks over five innings. Centreville would fall a game short of clinching a berth in the Class 6 state tournament when it dropped its next game, 5-2, to Chantilly in the region semifinals.

Robinson’s Walk-off Sac Fly Scores Chen, Gives Stars Kyle’s Kamp Title

On May 28, Jack Robinson drove home Nathan Chen with a walk-off sacrifice fly to give Marucci Stars 14U Holman an extra-inning victory in the championship game of the Kyle’s Kamp Memorial Day Tournament at Waters Field in Vienna. We slowed the video down to show how close the play at the plate was on the game-winning play. Video via Marucci Stars.

Caroline’s Catch Clinches Freedom’s State Tournament Berth

On May 30, Jonathan Fisher made a splash by outdueling Potomac Falls southpaw Nate Savino in a 1-0 victory, but it was his catcher who made the game’s biggest play when Drew Caroline made a sliding catch against the backstop to end the Region 5C semifinal contest and send Freedom-South Riding to the Class 5 state tournament. The Eagles would then beat Briar Woods to claim the region championship and advance to the state semifinals before falling to Potomac.

Cunningham’s 3-Run Triple Clinches Region 6D Title for Battlefield

On June 1, Battlefield junior outfielder Carter Cunningham hit a bases-clearing three-run triple in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a tie and provide the winning margin in a 7-4 win over Chantilly in the Region 6D championship game. Cunningham’s hit capped a game that saw him go 3-for-3 with four RBI and gave the Bobcats some semblance of revenge against a Chargers program that had knocked them off in the region and state championship games in 2016. Battlefield’s season would come to an end in its next game, a 6-5 loss to Lake Braddock in the Class 6 state quarterfinals. Video via Chris Cunningham.

Martin Gets Final Out as West Springfield Wins 4th State Championship

On June 9, West Springfield senior reliever Kyle Martin records the final out in the Spartans’ 12-2 win over Western Branch in the Class 6 state championship game in Glen Allen. Martin went the final two innings after starter Jared Lyons, who also hit a grand slam in the victory, struck out 10 while allowing one run in five innings. West Springfield finished 24-5 and ranked No. 1 in the Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll after winning the program’s fourth state title.

Eisert’s Sac Fly, Swank’s Dash Clinches North’s Berth in Gold Medal Game

On July 21, Bishop O’Connell’s Eddie Eisert drives a sacrifice fly to left field to score Riverside’s Carson Swank and give the North team a 3-2 walk-off win over the West that clinched a rematch between the teams in the Commonwealth Games gold medal game the following day. Woodbridge’s Magnus Ellerts and Centreville’s Hunter Bell stymied the West bats in the contest, combining for 10 strikeouts and allowing one earned run on two hits. Potomac Falls’ Nate Savino and Potomac’s Brody Mack drove in the North’s other two runs.

Swank’s 3-Run Triple Sparks North to Lopsided Win in Commonwealth Games Final

On July 22, Riverside’s Carson Swank clears the bases with a three-run triple as the North team pulls away in its 10-0 rain-shortened win over the West in the Commonwealth Games gold medal game in Lynchburg. Swank would finish with two hits, Potomac Falls’ Nate Savino added three RBI and Colgan’s Ryley Johnson and Briar Woods’ Nathan Cmeyla each had two hits as the North won its eighth Commonwealth Games title in nine years under coach Mike Covington.

Loudoun South’s Lizama Makes Diving Catch at Little League Regionals

On Aug. 4, Loudoun South outfielder Cameron Lizama made a diving catch to end the top of the first inning against Georgia state champion Peachtree City at the Little League Southeast Regional Tournament. Loudoun South would drop the contest, 4-3, but then win three straight to set up a rematch in the region final against Peachtree City. The local team lost in the final, 3-0, in a game broadcast nationally on ESPN2 and fell a win short of becoming the first Northern Virginia team to reach the Little League World Series since 1994. Lizama’s father, Sean, was the team’s head coach. Photo via ESPN+ broadcast.


Taylor Leads Vienna Post 180 to American Legion State Title

On Aug. 4, Justin Taylor singles through a drawn-in infield as Vienna Post 180 begins to pull away from Adam’s Post 86 en route to a 15-1 win in the American Legion state championship game in Winchester. Taylor wold finish the day 3-for-5 with five RBI and earned tournament MVP honors. Vienna finished the season 31-5, tying a post record for victories, after being eliminated in the Mid-Atlantic Regionals the following week. Taylor is now playing at Cornell University.

Hanvey’s 2-Run Single Lifts Leesburg Post 34 to Mid-Atlantic Final

On Aug. 12, Justin Hanvey hits a go-ahead two-run single in the top of the seventh inning as Leesburg Post 34 would come from behind to beat Souderton (PA) Post 234, 12-2, and clinch a berth in the American Legion Mid-Atlantic Region championship game. Hanvey, who is now playing at Radford University, finished with two hits and John Marquart was 3-for-3 with two RBI in the win. Post 34 would have its run end with a 10-0 loss in the final to Wilmington (DE) Post 1, which would then go on to win the American Legion World Series championship the following week in Shelby, N.C.

Note to Readers: If you have a video from 2018 that you’d like to have considered, please send it via email and we will review as a potential addition to this story.

Photo of Colgan’s Ryley Johnson and Gar-Field’s Eric Rodriguez courtesy of Prince William Sports and Entertainment broadcast

Year in Review: 2018’s Top Storylines

December 28 - Two area teams claimed high school state championships, a Little League team just missed becoming the first from Northern Virginia to advance to Williamsport in a quarter of a century, the local minor league club got a new ballpark deal, and one of the winningest prep coaches in area history called it quits.

In the second story in our Year in Review series, the magazine explores those headlines and other top Northern Virginia baseball stories from the past year:

West Potomac Overcomes Off-Field Drama, Wins 1st District Title Since ‘94

In March, what looked to be a state tournament-quality team nearly had its season derailed before it even started, as a two-year-old hazing incident was uncovered at West Potomac and led to the dismissal of two players and the suspension of another. Then longtime coach Jim Sullivan resigned in April due to a disagreement with school administration. Nonetheless, the Wolverines were able to win the Gunston District for the program’s first league title since 1994 before falling in the Region 6C quarterfinals to W.T. Woodson. The team was paced offensively by Alec Roberts, who hit .500 with an area-high eight home runs and 33 RBI after transferring from Edison. He is now playing at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Dramatic Wins Spark Chantilly’s Turnaround, Run to State Tournament

In early May, a fourth trip to the state tournament in five years seemed improbable as Chantilly had lost nine of its first 15 games. But then the Chargers found lightning in a bottle, getting walk-off singles from Connor Pennell to beat Loudoun Valley and Westfield and a walk-off homer from Christian Parana to beat Oakton and avoid the Concorde District’s play-in game. Coach Kevin Ford’s team then advanced to the Concorde District final and Region 6D final before having its season end with a state quarterfinal loss to eventual champion West Springfield.

Fauquier Upsets Top-Ranked Riverside, Clinches State Berth

In late May, Riverside was riding a 10-game winning streak and in its third week as the No. 1 team in the Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll entering its Region 4C semifinal contest against then-unranked Fauquier. But the Rams would see their season end following the season’s biggest upset, dropping an 8-6 decision to the Falcons, who would then beat Woodgrove to win the region title and advance to the Class 4 state semifinals before falling to eventual champion Salem. Blaze O’Saben, a member of the NOVA Nine Team, had three hits as Fauquier built 5-0 and 8-2 leads, then Carson McCusker would toss three innings of scoreless relief to clinich the upset and a berth in the state tournament.

Madison’s Novak Named NOVA Nine Player of the Year

In June, a record four underclassmen were named to the NOVA Nine Team, including the first-ever sophomore, Potomac Falls left-hander Nate Savino. He was joined by three juniors - Riverside’s Carson Swank, Potomac’s Brody Mack and Battlefield’s Zach Agnos - and five seniors - Marshall’s Patrick Halligan, Fauquier’s Blaze O’Saben, Paul VI Catholic’s Thomas Russell, Lake Braddock’s Matt Thomas and Madison’s Kyle Novak, who was named the Player of the Year after hitting .527 with five home runs and 26 RBI. All five seniors named to the team are now playing collegiately at the Division I level, Halligan at George Mason University, O’Saben at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, Russell at the Naval Academy, Thomas at the College of William & Mary, and Novak at James Madison University.

West Springfield, Spotsylvania Win State Championships

In June, West Springfield rode the pitching tandem of Jared Lyons and Calvin Pastel past rival Lake Braddock in the Region 6C final and again in the Class 6 state semifinals, then upended defending state champion Western Branch in the championship game. The state title was the Spartans’ fourth in program history, tying Madison for the most among area public schools. Spotsylvania, meanwhile, overcame an 8-5 deficit by rallying for eight straight runs, forcing extra innings before scoring five in the top of the eighth in a 13-8 win over Abingdon in the Class 3 state final. The championship was the Knights’ first in program history.

Agnos Shines with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team

In late June, Jake Agnos, a graduate of Battlefield and the 2016 NOVA Nine Player of the Year, became the latest area player selected to the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. The then-rising East Carolina University junior left-hander was one of the CNT’s top pitchers in tuneup games against teams from the Coastal Plains summer collegiate league and in friendship series against Chinese Taipei and Cuba in July. Agnos compiled a 0.96 ERA in four relief appearances, striking out 14 while walking just one in 9.1 innings. His performance impressed professional scouts and improved his stock for the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft. The previous area player named to the CNT, Stone Bridge grad J.B. Bukauskas (in 2016), was a first-round pick by the Houston Astros in 2017.

Lake Braddock’s Rutherford Steps Down After 17 Seasons

In July, Lake Braddock coach Jody Rutherford stepped down after guiding the Burke school to 315 victories since 2002. Under his guidance, the Bruins won seven district and three region championships and in 2012 claimed the program’s first state title. Rutherford’s teams never had a losing season and reached the 20-win plateau seven times, including last spring, when Lake Braddock went 21-5 and won the Patriot District title before falling in the region final and state semifinals. Former McLean head coach John Thomas, who had spent the previous four seasons as the Bruins’ pitching coach, was tabbed the following month as Rutherford’s replacement. He became just the program’s third coach since 1985, as his predecessors, Dan Griel and Rutherford, each spent 17 seasons at the helm.

Vienna Post 180 Wins American Legion State Championship

In August, behind the likes of Kyle Novak, Justin Taylor, Jake Nielsen, Eric Lingebach, Avery Neaves and Nate Leas, manager Nick Good’s Vienna Post 180 club won it first American Legion state championship since 1990 and became the first team from Northern Virginia to win a title since 1992. Novak, the NOVA Nine Player of the Year who is now playing at James Madison University, hit .421 with 29 RBI in 22 games. Taylor, who is now playing at Cornell University, hit .442 with 26 RBI and was named the most valuable player of the state tournament. Lingebach posted huge numbers, hitting .441 with a post-record nine triples along with five homers and 51 RBI, while Neaves (.393, 5 HR, 25 RBI) and Leas (.348, 2 HR, 30 RBI) also keyed a lineup that averaged nearly 10 runs per game and set a club record with a .354 team batting average. Nielsen, who will pitch at Brigham Young University, went a perfect 7-0 and joined his father, Mike, as members of the family to win a state title with Post 180. Vienna finished 31-5, matching its record for wins in a season originally set by the 1990 team.

Loudoun South’s Williamsport Bid Falls 1 Win Short

In August, Loudoun South Little League swept through its district and state tournaments and advanced to the championship game of the Southeast Regional before falling, 3-0, to Peachtree City, GA. The team, coached by Sean Lizama, fell one victory short of becoming the first area team since Central Springfield in 1994 to advance to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. Loudoun South was led offensively by Chad Yates (.583 batting average) and Griffin Burkholder (6 HR, 20 RBI) and on the mound by Shawn Arneja (5 wins, 0.39 ERA, 53 K’s in 30.2 IP) and Yates (53 K’s) over its 16 games.

Potomac Nationals Get New Ballpark Deal with City of Fredericksburg

In November, the Potomac Nationals announced that they would be moving to a new $35 million ballpark in Fredericksburg in 2020, ending the club’s near two-decade search for a new home. The 2019 season will be the Single-A Carolina League affiliate’s final campaign at Pfitzner Stadium, which opened in 1984 when the club moved from Alexandria. Officials in Prince William County are exploring options for how to utilize Pfitzner Stadium moving forward.

Photo of former Lake Braddock coach Jody Rutherford by Fred Ingham

Year in Review: 2018 by the Numbers

December 27 - This year provided Northern Virginia fans with plenty of excitement at all levels of the game, producing an abundance of intriguing numbers and statistics.

In the first story in our Year in Review series, the magazine explores some of those numbers:

1990 - The last year Vienna Post 180 had won an American Legion state championship prior to this year’s team ending the post’s near-three decade drought. Vienna finished 31-5, tying the post’s record for wins.

1,108 - The number of days Freedom-Woodbridge went between victories before snapping a 59-game losing streak with a 14-8 win over Park View on April 30. The losing streak is believed to be the longest in Northern Virginia history.

.532 - Batting average of Lake Braddock’s Matt Thomas, who edged Madison’s Kyle Novak (.527) and Gar-Field’s Marty Neal (.527) for the Northern Virginia batting title. Thomas struck out just once during his senior season with the Bruins.

496 - The number of career victories Loudoun Valley coach Wayne Todd finished his 41st season with. He needs four to become the first Northern Virginia coach to reach the 500-win milestone.

121 - Career hits by Madison’s Kyle Novak, who had 39 during his senior campaign en route to NOVA Nine Player of the Year honors.

109 - Strikeouts recorded by Potomac Falls lefty Nate Savino, who reached the area-best total in 51.1 innings. He became the first sophomore ever selected to the NOVA Nine Team.

75 - The number of pitches needed by South Lakes’ Josh Taylor while tossing the area’s lone perfect game in a 6-0 win over Hayfield on March 16. Taylor struck out 13 - including the final seven he faced - and didn’t reach a three-ball count until the final batter he faced.

56 - Consecutive victories by the Marucci Stars 10U Camp travel team to conclude its year. The group of elementary school kids won the final 10 tournaments they played in.

43 - Consecutive scoreless innings recorded by Paul VI Catholic’s Thomas Russell, who did not surrender a run during the regular season in his senior campaign. He was named to the magazine’s NOVA Nine Team.

35 - The number of million dollars the Potomac Nationals’ new stadium in Fredericksburg will cost to build. The ballpark will open in April 2020 and will mark the club’s 36-year stay at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge.

8 - Consecutive runs scored by Spotsylvania en route to a 13-8 win over Abingdon in the Class 3 state final. The Knights trailed 8-5 before sending the game into extra innings, then plated five runs in the top of the eighth to clinch the program’s first state championship.

4 - Northern Virginia natives to appear in the Major Leagues this year, a list that includes Brandon Guyer (Herndon), Brandon Snyder (Westfield), Justin Bour (Westfield) and Bobby Wahl (West Springfield). Guyer played the entire season with the Cleveland Indians, Snyder had a brief April stint with the Tampa Bay Rays, while the other two were part of midseason trades that sent Bour from Miami to Philadelphia and Wahl from Oakland to the New York Mets.

4  - The number of state championships in program history for West Springfield, which won the Class 6 title in June to match Madison for the most among Northern Virginia public schools. Paul VI Catholic has won five private school state championships, the most overall among area schools.

2 - Pitchers from George Mason selected in the Major League Baseball Draft in June. Zach Mort and Bryce Nightengale were taken by the Chicago Cubs in the eighth round and the Oakland Athletics in the 16th round, respectively, after helping the Patriots reach the Atlantic-10 Conference championship game.

1 - The number of wins Loudoun South Little League fell short of in its attempt to become the first area team since Central Springfield in 1994 to advance to the Little League World Series. Loudoun South fell to Peachtree City, GA in the Southeast Region final in August.

Photo of Thomas Russell by Fred Ingham

The Mag’s 2018 Year in Review Preview

December 24 - The magazine’s series of Year in Review features will kick off tomorrow and run through the final week of 2018.

The series will include a video feature of highlights and interviews from the year, a story recapping the biggest headlines in 2018, our Teams of the Year feature which will award winners in eight categories - youth all-star, youth travel, middle school travel, junior varsity, varsity, high school summer/fall, collegiate and men’s league - and six feature stories focusing on high school players and teams from Northern Virginia.

We will also have polls and other social media interaction over the final week of the year. The deadline for Teams of the Year nominations has been extended to 12 p.m. on Wednesday. The form can be found here.

Here is the magazine’s 2018 Year in Review schedule:

Tuesday, Dec. 25 - 2018 Highlight Video

Wednesday, Dec. 26 - 2018 Year in Review Story

Thursday, Dec. 27 - 2018 Teams of the Year Announcements

Friday, Dec. 28 - Feature Stories: Gar-Field’s Turnaround | Doug Grove’s retirement

Saturday, Dec. 29 - Feature Stories: End of Meade, Rall Era at Patriot | Emotional State Title Run for Spotsylvania’s Travis Payne

Sunday, Dec. 30 - Feature Stories: Emergence of Potomac Falls’ Nate Savino | Administrative Failures at Woodbridge’s Freedom

Monday, Dec. 31 - Redemption for West Springfield’s Jared Lyons | The 50-Year Anniversary of Madison’s 1968 State Title

Top 5 Most Influential People in Northern Virginia Baseball

December 14 - He wears several hats, and each time he puts one on area baseball seems to benefit.

Rob Hahne leads our list of the top five most influential people in Northern Virginia baseball, a title earned from serving and excelling in a number of capacities that have benefited the area game over the past decade-plus. The magazine’s list of the area’s most influential figures is based on a survey of several coaches, administrators and contributors and is based on their reach and impact on the local baseball community.

Here’s our list of the top five most influential baseball people in Northern Virginia, followed by notes on others who were considered.

1. Rob Hahne - Hahne holds several baseball-related titles and has been the biggest youth baseball advocate in Northern Virginia over the past decade. He is the executive director of the Northern Virginia Travel Baseball League (NVTBL) - the nation’s largest travel league - as well as the president of the Fairfax County Baseball Council and the head coach at Westfield High School. When his son, Kyle, was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2010, he established Kyle’s Kamp, which has raised over $2,000,000 for pediatric cancer research and care for Children's National through its several annual fundraising efforts and events.

2. John Porter - He’s the first name coaches as well as team, school or league administrators think of regarding umpires in the area. Porter is the commissioner of the Northern Virginia Baseball Umpires Association and Mid-Atlantic Officials, which provide umpires for youth, travel, high school and college games. Each year, from March through early November, Porter’s organizations provide the umpires for thousands of games and are integral to the daily operation and annual growth of the game in Northern Virginia.

3. Art Silber - He spent close to $500,000 in 1990 to purchase the Single-A minor league team now known as the Potomac Nationals, and has overseen the club as its net worth has grown to more than $15 million. After several failed attempts to identify locations to build a replacement for 34-year-old Pfitzner Stadium, Silber and his ownership group finally landed their new ballpark deal with the City of Fredericksburg. In 2020, they’ll unveil a new $35 million ballpark. In their near-three decades overseeing the club, the Silber family has remained involved in several community and youth sports initiatives in Prince William County and beyond.

4. Mark ‘Pudge’ Gjormand - In addition to building one of the area’s top high school baseball programs at Madison, Gjormand serves as the director of the MVP Baseball School in Herndon, the Greater Vienna Sports Camps and the MVP International program that sends teams abroad each summer. He has established one of the area’s top middle school travel programs in the MVP Terps, helped the Reston Little League establish its Reston Warriors youth travel program, and is a constant presence with and advocate of the Vienna Little League. His coaching tree also continues to grow, with several former players and assistants now coaching at area high schools.

5. Mike Colangelo and Shawn Camp - The two former Major Leaguers are synonymous as the owners of the Marucci Stars, the area’s largest travel program, as well as what has become the biggest academy in Northern Virginia, the Complete Game Sports & Fitness facility in Manassas. Colangelo Baseball and the Shawn Camp Pitching Academy are major components of the facility, as are the Athlete’s Addiction training academy run by Colangelo’s wife, Robin, and the Catchers U academy operated by Jack Ferrick. They both coach at the high school level - Colangelo as the head coach at Colgan and Camp as the pitching coach at Battlefield - and also coach at several levels within the Stars program.

Others Considered: Pat Herrity, the Springfield District Supervisor with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, has been a major advocate of youth baseball and the establishment and upgrade of facilities for a number of years. … John Lombardozzi founded the NVTBL in 1999 and remains the president of what has grown to become the largest travel league in the country. HIs wife, Lisa, also remains an integral part of the NVTBL operations … Sam Plank, who is also a state champion coach at the high school level, has built Diamond Elite into the premier travel program and training academy in Loudoun County. … Marla Lerner Tanenbaum, the daughter of Washington Nationals founding owner Ted Lerner and the sister of their current managing principal owner, Mark Lerner, has overseen the development of two sparkling new youth facilities as the chair of the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. The foundation has funded the Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez Field at Mason District Park in Falls Church and the Bryce Harper All-Star Complex at Fred Crabtree Park in Herndon. … Bill Brown has been the head coach at Northern Virginia’s lone Division I college program since 1982, and a number of his former players and coaches currently coach or serve as administrators at the youth, high school, college and professional levels. … Mike Murray has run the area’s longest-running baseball academy, his Virginia Baseball Club was founded in 1992, and he remains very active in the Arlington youth leagues. … As the manager of the Fairfax County Athletics Services Division, Karen Avvisato oversees applications for the county’s community use for fields and gyms and works with the county’s parks and recreation department and local politicians on facility development and upgrades. … Billy Emerson has served as the athletics director while Paul VI Catholic High School has morphed into Northern Virginia’s premier private school sports program, and the Panthers’ baseball coach also serves on the state committee for the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association. … Carson Carroll established the Marucci Stars in 2008, and he remains involved as a coach as the travel program has grown to become the biggest in Northern Virginia. … Jim Grenier operates Leesburg Post 34’s program and serves as the Virginia state director for the American Legion. … Mike Covington is one of the area’s most-accomplished high school coaches and has also overseen the North team at the Commonwealth Games for the past 27 years. … He’s been retired as a high school coach for almost two decades, but Ron Tugwell continues to be a mentor for numerous area coaches and has an expansive coaching tree at all levels of the game. … The chairman of Vienna Little League, Bill Cervenak has for over three decades been a key figure in the area’s largest youth league, which feeds some of the area’s best high school programs in Madison, Oakton, Marshall and Flint Hill. … The longtime commissioner of the D.C. Men’s Senior Baseball League (MSBL), Jerry Klemm has been a constant presence in area men’s league baseball.

Note: Today’s story is part our series ranking the area’s best coaches, programs, fields and contributors.

Photo of Rob Hahne courtesy of Kyle’s Kamp

Notebook: 7-Time All-Star, ‘47 World Series Champ McQuinn to Enter W-L’s Hall of Fame

December 13 - The most-decorated Major League player from Northern Virginia will posthumously enter the athletics Hall of Fame at Washington-Lee High School next month.

George McQuinn, a 1929 graduate of the Arlington school, will be inducted during a ceremony on Jan. 18.

As a left-handed pitcher and left-handed swinging first baseman, McQuinn helped the Generals win three consecutive Northern Virginia championships from 1927-29 and also starred for the school’s basketball team.

After spurning a baseball scholarship offer from the College of William & Mary, he was working as an elevator operator and playing for a semipro team in Northern Virginia when he was offered his first professional contract in 1930.

He broke into the big leagues with the Cincinnati Reds in 1936 and would be named to seven All-Star teams over a 12-year career. McQuinn led the St. Louis Browns to the American League pennant in 1944, then hit .438 in the World Series during a six-game loss to the crosstown rivals. He joined the New York Yankees in 1947, teaming with future Baseball Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto and Yogi Berra to lead them to a seven-game win over the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series that October.

He made the All-Star team in both of his seasons with the Yankees before retiring after the 1948 season. In his Major League career, McQuinn hit .276 with a .357 on-base percentage, 1,588 hits, 135 home runs and 794 RBI. He batted over .300 three times, hitting a career-high .324 in 1938, when he embarked on a 34-game hitting streak that stands as one of the longest in Major League history.

McQuinn would later manage in the minor leagues and work as a scout for the Washington Senators and Montreal Expos before operating a sporting good store in Arlington. He passed away in December 1978.

Details on the Hall of Fame ceremony will be posted on Washington-Lee’s athletics page here.

Former MLB Outfielder Colangelo Will Return as Colgan’s Coach

Mike Colangelo will return for a third season as the head coach at Colgan High School, he confirmed earlier today after meeting with school administrators this morning.

The news ends three months of uncertainty after Colangelo resigned from his position on Sept. 11, only to rescind his resignation the following day. His initial departure stemmed from a misinformed message from the school’s director of student activities, Dave Huckestein, indicating he could no longer rent the school’s field due to a conflict of interest with his role as the general manager of the Marucci Stars travel program.

A decision from the school and the Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) school division as to whether they would retain Colangelo took nearly 100 days, as documented in our story earlier this week.

Colangelo, a former Major League outfielder, led the Sharks to a 17-27 record in their first two seasons. Last spring, they finished 12-11 and advanced to the Region 6C quarterfinals before falling to then-No. 1 Lake Braddock, 6-1.

Colgan’s decision on their coaching position leaves Northern Virginia with just one vacancy, at Freedom-Woodbridge, which is seeking its eighth coach in nine years.

USA Baseball Makes Adjustments to NTIS Program

USA Baseball has made adjustments to its National Team Identification Series (NTIS) program, reducing its regions from 16 to six while adding a 12U age division and dropping its 17U age division.

Players formerly looking to tryout for the program did so locally and regionally through the Capital Region, which has been absorbed into the Northeast Region as the NTIS organizers sought to streamline its tryout and identification process. The Northeast Region’s director is Jeff Schaefer.

The other major change is the addition of a 12U age division, which will align USA Baseball with other countries that field national team programs at that age.  

"As participation in youth baseball continues to rise, it is our duty to adapt and modernize USA Baseball initiatives to fit the ever-changing youth baseball landscape," said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball's Executive Director and CEO, in a release yesterday.

For USA Baseball’s entire release, click here. And for area players interested in tryout information, follow the Northeast Region’s Twitter handle here.

Photo of George McQuinn by Sporting News and Rogers Photo Archive via Getty Images