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