The Rundown: Trumbo’s Walk-off Gives West Potomac Win over No. 6 O’Connell

March 21 - West Potomac’s No. 9 hitter, Jacob Trumbo, hit a walk-off single up the middle as the Wolverines overcame a 3-0 deficit in a 4-3 win over No. 6 Bishop O’Connell last night in Alexandria.

After pinch runner Liam Airey stole second base, Trumbo drove an 0-2 offering from Eddie Eisert up the middle to score Airey and give West Potomac (1-1) its first win under new coach Jimmy Linza. The loss was the first of the season for the Knights (2-1).

“Very happy to see us compete unselfishly against such tough opponents,” Linza said. “Our guys showed a lot of heart to come back and beat them this afternoon. Hopefully, we can build on this and continue to get better and better.”

O’Connell senior right-hander Will Pickford, a Virginia Tech recruit, was perfect though three innings before handing off to reliever Brandon Kim, who kept the Wolverines from reaching base until Henry Dean drew a walk to open the sixth. After Aidan Sanderson singled, Trumbo bunted the two runners into scoring position and Alex Grove and Eli Owens followed with back-to-back RBI singles.

Eisert, a junior two-way standout committed to N.C. State, then relieved and would surrender a bases-loaded walk to tie the game and set up the Wolverines’ dramatics in the bottom of the seventh.

West Potomac junior lefty Adam Fischer fanned eight and permitted one run In four innings and would take the no-decision. Alex Grove, who got the final four outs, earned the win. Peter Colevas, Jake Berry and Riley O’Donovan each had three hits for the Knights.

Here are recaps of Tuesday’s games involving teams from the Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll:

No. 5 Lake Braddock 12, No. 2 Madison 2 - Mike Weidinger and reliever Noah Adcock-Howeth combined to limit the Warhawks to four hits and the Bruins took advantage of four errors that led to eight unearned runs for their second straight win to open the season. Andrew Schaeb and Jay Cassady each had two hits and two RBI to pace Lake Braddock, while Madison’s Chris Polymeropoulos went 2-for-3 with an RBI.

No. 3 Freedom-South Riding 8, Woodgrove 4 - Drew Caroline was 2-for-3 with a double, Cole Novoa drove in three runs and Michael Meglio had a two-run double as the Eagles snapped a two-game skid. Brady Drawbaugh and Wyatt Miles had two hits apiece for the Wolverines.

No. 4 Potomac 22, Gar-Field 0 - Brody Mack fanned seven in four hitless innings and Josue Cumba struck out two in a perfect fifth before the game was called due to the 10-run mercy rule. Braden Mack was 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI and Ben Thomas doubled twice and drove in two runs for the Panthers, which won their third straight to open the season.

No. 8 South Lakes 9, South County 2 - Clayton Long went 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI, Garrett O’Connor was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI and Ryan Dooley reached and scored four times and stole two bags as the Seahawks won their third straight to begin the spring. South Lakes pitchers Jack Thompson and Shane Stiehl combined for 12 strikeouts. Mike Robinson and Tre Williams each had two hits for the Stallions.

No. 10 Westfield 12, Hayfield 0 - The Bulldogs posted their third straight shutout to begin the season, getting three innings from Jason Cheifetz and one apiece from Derek Furr and Danny Leo while holding the Hawks to two hits before the game was called due to the 10-run mercy rule. Kevin Mackmin was 2-for-2 with a walk, double and four RBI while Nick Lottchea and Brian Sanders each added two hits.

Here are recaps of yesterday’s games involving teams from the Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll:

No. 2 Madison 6, Marshall 3 - Zach Perkins and Ryan Murphy combined for 12 strikeouts and the Warhawks rallied from a 3-1 deficit a night after suffering their first loss of the season. Patrick Casey drove home the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth to score Chris Polymeropoulos, who had tied the game with an RBI single earlier in the inning. Alex Hakim and Danny Hoffman had Marshall’s two hits.

No. 9 Episcopal 15, Bishop Ireton 1 - John Moses was 2-for-2 with two walks, three runs and two RBI as the Maroon won their fifth straight to open the season and reached double-digits in runs for the fourth time. David Rondeau was 2-for-3 with three RBI and Thomas Windels scattered four hits over five innings before the game as called due to the 10-run mercy rule. Andrew Luzik drove in the Cardinals’ run.

Other Games: Seth Richards went five innings and reliever Jack Whipp went two for the save as the two Oakton hurlers combined for 11 strikeouts and a no-hitter in a 3-0 win over W.T. Woodson … Magnus Ellerts and Jack Lamb combined for 15 strikeouts while limiting Colgan to one hit in Woodbridge’s 7-5 win over the Sharks … Jaden Isidro was 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI to lead Brooke Point to a 6-4 win over Osbourn Park. A.J. Shepard was 3-for-3 with an RBI for the Yellow Jackets … Cole Reddington was 2-for-4 with a triple and four RBI to lead Osboun to a 10-0 win over Mount Vernon.

Photo of Adam Fischer courtesy of West Potomac Baseball

Flint Hill's Verbanic Passes Knupp for 7th in NOVA Coaching Victories

March 19 - With his team’s 5-1 win over visiting Paul VI Catholic this afternoon, Flint Hill coach Tom Verbanic passed former longtime W.T. Woodson skipper R. Lee Knupp for seventh in career victories among Northern Virginia coaches.

The win was the 389th for Verbanic, who is in his 26th season as a head coach and his ninth at the Oakton private school. He is 154-60 at Flint Hill, having previously served as the coach at Langley in 1984 and Fairfax from 1985-2000.

Verbanic trails retired coaches Tom Hall (437), Ron Tugwell (431) and Del Norwood (420) and three active coaches - Loudoun Valley’s Wayne Todd (497), Mike Covington (444) and Mark ‘Pudge’ Gjormand (414) - on the area’s all-time victories list. Knupp, who was inducted in W.T. Woodson’s Athletics Hall of Fame in January, led the Cavaliers to 388 wins and two Group AAA state championships during his 27-year tenure from 1967-93.

In today’s win, the Huskies (4-1), senior right-hander Alex Walsh scattered two hits and allowed one run in five innings and had two hits. George Rizzo also had two hits and Joey Thomas drove in two runs. The Panthers (1-4) were paced by Devon Zavacky, who had two of their three hits.

Verbanic also has 234 wins as an area football coach at Fairfax, Westfield and Flint Hill. He led the Bulldogs to Group AAA state titles in 2003 and 2007, and this past fall led the Huskies to a VISAA Division I state championship.

Note: Win totals for active coaches through tonight’s games.

Photo of Tom Verbanic courtesy of Flint Hill Athletics

Battlefield’s Miles is Northern Virginia High School Player of the Week

March 19 - Battlefield’s Craig Miles has been named the Northern Virginia High School Player of the Week, sponsored by Northern Virginia Orthodontics.

Over the week of Mar. 11-17, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior outfielder went 7-for-7 with two doubles, a triple, four RBI, four steals and three runs as the Bobcats opened the season with wins over Colgan and Forest Park. He had four hits in Friday’s 6-1 win over the Bruins, falling a home run short of the cycle.

The left-handed swinging lead off man remains uncommitted to college, though a number of schools have expressed interest. Miles was a first-team All-Cedar Run District and second-team All-Region 6D selection last spring.

Here are this week’s other nine nominees:

Ryan Dooley, South Lakes - A 5-foot-10, 180-pound junior shortstop, Dooley went 4-for-6 with four walks, a double, triple, two RBI and scored four runs over the Seahawks’ wins over Chantilly and Fairfax. He was a first-team All-Liberty District selection last year who has committed to play at the Virginia Military Institute.

Jackson Foreman, Brooke Point - A 5-foot-9, 160-pound junior second baseman and right-handed pitcher, Foreman went 3-for-9 with three walks, two home runs and five RBI and also pitched a scoreless inning of relief over the Black-Hawks’ three games. He was a first-team All-Commonwealth District selection last spring as a sophomore.

Tyler Gauthier, South County - A 5-foot-11, 200-pound junior first baseman and pitcher, Gauthier hit a grand slam and allowed one run on one hit over three innings as the Stallions came from behind for a 9-8 win over Oakton on Thursday.

Billy Hoad, Brentsville District - A 5-foot-8, 160-pound senior third baseman, Hoad went 3-for-5 with two walks, six runs, three steals and an RBI as the Tigers opened their season with wins over Skyline and Kettle Run. He was a first-team All-Northwestern District selection last year who will play next year at Wilson College in Pennsylvania.

Josh Iannarelli, Brooke Point - A 5-foot-9, 160-pound junior outfielder, Iannarelli was 6-for-10 with two walks, five runs, two steals and an RBI as the Black-Hawks won two of three games last week.

Josh Jones, Yorktown - A 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior third baseman, Jones went 5-for-7 with a triple and three RBI and scored all six times he reached base in the Patriots’ season-opening wins over Fairfax and Hayfield. Also added two steals.

Jackson Kantor, McLean - A 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior second baseman, Kantor went 2-for-3 with a walk, a home run and four RBI as the Highlanders opened their season with a 13-0 win over W.T. Woodson on Thursday. He was a second-team All-Liberty District selection last spring.

Teddy Merritt, McLean - A 6-foot-6, 230-pound junior right-handed pitcher, Merritt struck out eight batters and didn’t allow a hit over four innings as the Highlanders opened their season with a 13-0 win over W.T. Woodson on Thursday. He was a first-team All-Liberty District and second-team All-Region 6D selection as a sophomore last year.

Nate Savino, Potomac Falls - A 6-foot-3, 195-pound junior left-handed pitchers, Savino pitched a one-hit shutout and recorded 18 strikeouts with no walks in the Panthers’ 5-0 win over then-No. 4 Riverside. He also went 2-for-3 with a run at the plate. Was the Potomac District and Region 5C Player of the Year and a member of the NOVA Nine Team last spring, and has committed to pitch at the University of Virginia.

Note: Player of the Week nominees come from area coaches, who are sent a nomination form on Monday each week.

Sponsor: The magazine’s Northern Virginia High School Player of the Week is sponsored by Northern Virginia Orthodontics. For more information, visit their website at

Pictured clockwise from top left: McLean’s Jackson Kantor, South Lakes’ Ryan Dooley, McLean’s Teddy Merritt, Brooke Point’s Jackson Foreman, Potomac Falls’ Nate Savino, Yorktown’s Josh Jones and Battlefield’s Craig Miles. Photos submitted.

The Rundown: Nesson’s 13 K’s Leads George Mason Past Hayfield, 2-0

March 19 - Jay Nesson struck out 13 while limiting Hayfield to one hit over six innings as George Mason beat the visiting Hawks, 2-0, last night in Falls Church.

The efficient Nesson recorded first-pitch strikes to 20 of 23 batters, had 64 of 86 pitches for strikes and didn’t walk a batter as the Mustangs (1-2) won their first game of the spring. After allowing a two-out single to Sam Graziano in the top of the first, the senior right-hander set down six straight and 10 of 11. He’d work around two errors to strand two runners in scoring position in the fifth, then retired the Hawks in order in the sixth before handing off to Caleb Parnell, who pitched the seventh to earn the save.

Thomas Downs had an RBI double in the third inning and Parnell drove in an insurance run on a fielder’s choice in the sixth to provide the game’s final margin. Hayfield starter Daniel Peterson took the loss despite allowing just one run on five hits in five innings.

Here are recaps of yesterday’s games involving teams from the Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll:

No. 1 Battlefield 8, No. 3 Freedom-South Riding 7 - Craig Miles went 3-for-4 with a triple and scored three runs, Peter Benevides and Jamie Garrison drove in two runs apiece and Kyle Terrell scored a walk-off run on a wild pitch as the Bobcats remained undefeated and handed the Eagles their second straight loss. J.T. McGuire earned the win after pitching a scoreless 1.2 innings in relief. Bryce Eisenreich and Jack Greentree each drove in two runs for Freedom.

No. 4 Potomac 7, Osbourn 0 - Ben Thomas was 4-for-4 with a double and two RBI while Braden Mack struck out five over four hitless innings and Jackson Lowery and Nate Saber each pitched a scoreless inning in relief to complete the shutout to lead the Panthers. Tyler Husband had the Eagles’ lone hit.

No. 7 Patriot 12, Mountain View 2 - Riley Eikhoff had a three-run triple during a 12-run fourth inning that saw the Pioneers send 18 batters to the plate en route to their third straight win to open the season. Jaden Minnick filled up the box score by going 2-for-2 with two walks, three RBI, a stolen base and a run and Luke Basler went four innings to earn the win before the game was called due to the 10-run mercy rule.

Top 10 Today: No. 5 Lake Braddock at No. 2 Madison; Woodgrove at No. 3 Freedom-South Riding; No. 4 Potomac at Gar-Field; No. 7 Bishop O’Connell at West Potomac; South County at No. 8 South Lakes; Bishop Ireton at No. 9 Episcopal; Hayfield at No. 10 Westfield

Other Games: Potomac Falls’ Reiss Phillips had three hits while Andrew Gerhart and Matt Weber each drove in two runs in an 8-2 win in game one, and Loudoun County’s Wyatt DeProspero tossed five scoreless innings in a 3-0 win in game two as the two teams split a doubleheader in Leesburg … Shane Saunders went 2-for-3 with a walk and two steals and Cameron Mozingo-Morales went four scoreless innings in Osbourn Park’s 5-0 win over Colonial Forge … Patrick Millner struck out seven, scattering three hits and allowing one unearned run over five innings while Trevor Ferares and Connor Dymon each had two hits and an RBI in Courtland’s 2-1 win over Colonial Beach.

Photo of Jay Nesson courtesy of George Mason Baseball

Bobcats Retain Top Spot, 5 New Teams Enter Northern Virginia Top 10

March 19 - The top three spots remained the same while five new teams joined the rankings in this week’s Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll, which is sponsored by Prime Time Baseball in Alexandria.

Battlefield, which opened its season with victories over Colgan and Forest Park, retained its stop atop the rankings after garnering 24 of 42 first-place votes and 388 total points. The Bobcats (2-0) were hosting No. 3 Freedom (2-1) tonight when the rankings were released. The Eagles got one first-place vote and 262 points after opening their season with wins over Loudoun Valley and then-No. 4 Riverside and a loss to Lynchburg’s Liberty Christian Academy.

No. 2 Madison (1-0) closed the gap on Battlefield after an impressive 12-2 season-opening win over defending Class 6 state champion and preseason No. 5 West Springfield on Friday. The Warhawks received 15 first-place votes and 384 total points.

No. 4 Potomac (1-0) and No. 5 Lake Braddock each rose two spots this week, receiving 252 and 247 points, respectively. The Panthers, which received two first-place votes, beat Stonewall Jackson, 11-1, in their opener while the Bruins edged then-No. 8 Chantilly, 2-1, in their first game of the spring.

Entering the rankings this week are No. 6 Bishop O’Connell (2-0), No. 7 Patriot (2-0), No. 8 South Lakes (2-0), No. 9 Episopal (4-0) and No. 10 Westfield. South Lakes and Episcopal are making their first appearance in the poll’s five-year history, while O’Connell enters the rankings for the first time since April 2016.

Dropping out of this week’s poll were No. 4 Riverside (0-2), No. 5 West Springfield (0-1), No. 8 Chantilly (0-2), No. 9 Paul VI Catholic (1-3), and No. 10 Briar Woods (0-0).

Others receiving votes this week included: McLean (43), West Springfield (42), Riverside (41), Highland School (37), Robinson (35), Briar Woods (31), Stafford (31), Brentsville District (30), Flint Hill (25), Fauquier (23), Yorktown (21), Marshall (12), Colgan (7), Potomac Falls (7), Loudoun Valley (6), Chantilly (5), Spotsylvania (4) and Stone Bridge (1).

Sponsor: The magazine’s Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll is sponsored by the Prime Time Baseball Academy. For more information on the academy, visit its website at

Photo of Ryan Dooley courtesy of South Lakes Baseball

Patriot District Preview: Can Rams Challenge Bruins’, Spartans’ Reign?

March 17 - In a league won by Lake Braddock or West Springfield in each of the past five seasons and nine of the past 11 years, Robinson poses the greatest threat to shake up the league hierarchy in 2019.

The Bruins and Spartans clashed five times last year, with Lake Braddock winning the first three contests - including in the Patriot District championship game - and West Springfield avenging the losses in the Region 6C final and again in the Class 6 semifinals en route to its fourth state title.

Both teams took significant hits to graduation - losing a combined 12 players who earned all-district honors - but the depth of the two programs remains a strength as they each are expected to be among the area’s top teams this spring.

The Bruins, who received first-place votes from five of the district’s six coaches, will turn to senior right-handed pitcher and first baseman Lyle Miller-Green for leadership after the loss of catcher Matt Thomas, the state’s Player of the Year and a member of the NOVA Nine Team, as well as two second-team all-state selections in pitcher Rojo Prarie and first baseman Jack Darcy. Miller-Green hit .416 with five home runs and 29 RBI and was 2-0 with a save, a 1.68 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 25 innings last year.

The task of reloading falls to former McLean coach John Thomas, who takes over for longtime coach Jody Rutherford after four seasons as Lake Braddock’s pitching coach. He’ll start the year by deploying Miller-Green in a closer’s role, hoping his trio of young lefties - sophomores Andrew Schaeb and Mike Weidinger and junior Jay Cassady - can mature quickly.

Across town in Springfield, the Spartans must replace two-way stars Jared Lyons and Calvin Pastel, each of whom earned first-team all-state honors last year. Eighth-year coach Jason Olms, who has earned a reputation for having his teams playing their best come the postseason, will turn to another two-way player in Alec Reilly to anchor a staff that will throw to two catchers in David Giorgis and Jeffrey Beavers who will play collegiately.

Robinson, meanwhile, opens a new era of its own under Mike Gallagher, the former head coach at Hayfield and Bishop Ireton who takes the reigns from John James after he left to become the director of student activities at Lee. The Rams have entered the previous two seasons with high hopes, only to have injuries to key players and disappointing campaigns by others derail those hopes. For this year’s club to take the next step and contend for a district championship, it’ll need big seasons from senior Ethan Rothstein, a James Madison recruit, and junior outfielder Malik Kabra, a first-team all-region pick last year who will begin the season as the designated hitter after offseason labrum surgery.

South County returns experience in the form of senior middle infielders Bryce Hickman (.333) and Jacob Baines and a young core led by sophomore third baseman Max Bondurant (.327) and three juniors - catcher Mike Robinson, right-hander and first baseman Tyler Gauthier and utility man Tre Williams. The Stallions might be a year away from contending, but will be in the mix for one of the district’s four regional berths.

W.T. Woodson was also hit hard by graduation, and then again by preseason injuries. Three of coach Brett McColley’s top returners - infielder Richie Dudley (labrum), catcher Drew Dougherty (labrum) and right-hander and outfielder Zach Adams (elbow) - enter the season out or limited. Dougherty is playing through his injury but limited mostly to DH duties, while Dudley and Adams are out for at least the first month of the season.

Fairfax returns one of the league’s top players in senior shortstop Dylan Wilkinson (.403), a Maryland-Baltimore County recruit who was a second-team all-region selection last year. But despite returning 12 seniors, coach Rick Freeman’s club will have an uphill battle as it seeks its first regional berth since coming over from the Liberty District two years ago.

Coaches Poll
1. Lake Braddock (34)
2. West Springfield (30)
3. Robinson (26)
4. South County (16)
5. W.T. Woodson (11)
6. Fairfax (10)
* points awarded via votes by league coaches, descending from 6 for 1st place, 5 for 2nd place, etc.

Mag’s Predictions
District Champion:
Lake Braddock
Player of the Year: Ethan Rothstein, Sr., C/OF, Robinson
Pitcher of the Year: Lyle Miller-Green, Sr. RHP/1B, Lake Braddock

Lake Braddock Bruins
Head Coach:
John Thomas, 1st year (0-0); 8th year overall (108-53)
2018 Record: 21-5 overall, 10-0 district
Key Losses: C Matt Thomas; RHP/OF Rojo Prarie; 1B Jack Darcy; RHP Connor Glynn; 3B Peter Buschman; 2B Ryan Baker; OF Will Reid; RHP Brad Burgee; OF Chris Ginn
Key Returners: Sr. RHP/1B Lyle Miller-Green; Sr. SS Bobby Leitzel
College Bound: Lyle Miller Green (George Mason); Bobby Leitzel (Marymount); Noah Adcock-Howeth (Mary Washington)
Coach’s Comments: “We will go where our young pitchers take us this year. We need to develop guys who are willing and able to go to the mound with an attacking mindset. Right now, we have a bunch of young arms who are afraid to give up hits. Our toughness level isn't very good on the mound. If and when that improves, we can play with anybody.”

West Springfield Spartans
Head Coach:
Jason Olms, 8th year (120-54)
2018 Record: 24-5 overall, 7-3 district
Key Losses: 2B/RHP Jared Lyons; RHP/OF Calvin Pastel; SS Brett Stallings; 1B Nick Johnson; OF Rob Cable; OF Kyle Mittauer; RHP Kyle Martin; 3B Sam Treasure
Key Returners: Sr. C David Giorgis; Sr. CF/LHP Alec Reilly; Sr. RF Justin Nelson; Sr. C/3B Jeffrey Beavers
College Bound: Alec Reilly (Christopher Newport); Bryce Haynes (Virginia State)
Coach’s Comments: “We will lack a lot of experience with several new faces playing new positions, but we will put ourselves in a position to compete with anyone if we remain unselfish, pay attention to detail, control the controllables, and bring our best effort and attitude to the field each and every day.”

Robinson Rams
Head Coach:
Mike Gallagher, 1st year (0-0); 8th year overall (82-100)
2018 Record: 9-10 overall, 2-8 district
Key Losses: 2B Alex Lemery; 1B Cam Price; SS Jack Quinn; OF Jackson Russell
Key Returners: Sr. C/OF Ethan Rothstein; Jr. OF Malik Kabra; Sr. OF/RHP Max Henry; Sr. RHP/2B Danny Checkosky; Sr. OF Andrew Kanellis; Jr. RHP Kristian Asbury
College Bound: Ethan Rothstein (James Madison); Andrew Kanellis (Vasser); Danny Checkosky (Roanoke); Max Henry (Marymount)
Coach’s Comments: “We should be solid and ready to compete for a district title with Lake Braddock and West Springfield. We have 12 seniors on the roster. Malek Kabra and Warren Holzemer will also have big roles.”

South County Stallions
Head Coach:
Scott Nelson, 1st year (0-0)
2018 Record: 9-12 overall, 5-5 district
Key Losses: RHP/OF Jack Cone; LHP Ryan McElligott; IF Kellum Stripling; RHP Dylan Buzbee
Key Returners: Sr. IF/RHP Jacob Baines; Sr. IF/RHP Bryce Hickman; So. 3B Max Bondurant
College Bound: Zach King (Mary Baldwin)
Coach’s Comments: “Our young and talented core should mesh well with a few seniors to keep us competitive in a tough district. Our progress throughout the year will be determined by how quickly our young guys improve and if we get consistent pitching out of a staff that graduated 80 percent of our innings from 2018.”

W.T. Woodson Cavaliers
Head Coach:
Brett McColley, 5th year (47-43); 9th year overall (63-99)
2018 Record: 14-11 overall, 5-5 district
Key Losses: C Brian Hennessey; RHP Brett Clements; RHP/OF Hunter Hoopes; IF Chris Dudley
Key Returners: Jr. C/2B Drew Dougherty; Jr. IF Richie Dudley; Sr. RHP/OF Zach Adams
College Bound: Zach Adams (Mary Washington)
Coach’s Comments: “We are young and inexperienced at the varsity level. Injuries have hit our returning varsity players with experience very hard.”

Fairfax Rebels
Head Coach:
Rick Freeman, 16th year (154-168); 25th year overall (254-248)
2018 Record: 4-17 overall, 1-9 district
Key Losses: SS/2B Thomas Aguila; OF Wyatt Brooks
Key Returners: Sr. SS Dylan Wilkinson; Sr. OF Bryce Johnson; Sr. 2B/OF Xavier Herring; Sr. C J.T. Thomas
College Bound: Dylan Wilkinson (Maryland-Baltimore County); Xavier Herring (Mary Washington); Bryce Johnson (Davis & Elkins); J.T. Thomas (Frostburg)
Coach’s Comments: “We have 12 Seniors this year. We should have better depth on the mound and hope to be more competitive in the Patriot District. This is a hard-working group that has been together for a long time. Really fun group of kids.”

Photos of Lake Braddock’s Lyle Miller-Green and West Springfield’s Alec Reilly by Fred Ingham

Cardinal District Preview: Potomac Favored, But Deep League Full of Potential Spoilers

March 16 - If ever there were a player who defined workhorse, it’s Brody Mack.

Potomac’s do-it-all senior, who has signed to play next year at William & Mary, led Northern Virginia players in wins (11) and innings (81.0) as the Panthers’ left-handed ace last spring. At the plate, he was just as big a threat, hitting .435 with 36 RBI, the second-most among area players, en route to NOVA Nine Team honors and while helping Potomac win the Region 5D championship and advance to the Class 5 state final.

Some of Mack’s supporting cast, notably first-team all-state outfielder T.J. Reney and versatile shortstop Brandon Cleveland, are gone, but the Panthers remain the favorite to win the district in coach Mike Covington’s 26th season, receiving six of the seven first-place votes by the league’s coaches. Mack, who compiled a 1.13 ERA in 2018, will be joined on staff by seniors Josue Cumba (4-0, 0.74 ERA) and Nate Saber (3-1, 2.82), and his younger brother, junior catcher Braden Mack, along with all-state third baseman Julian Cumba (.383, 24 steals) will join him in the lineup.

Nipping at the Panthers’ heels is third-year Colgan, which received the remaining first-place vote after earning the program’s first winning season and regional berth last year. How big of a contender coach Mike Colangelo’s club is this spring will begin with junior all-state outfielder Ryley Johnson, an East Carolina recruit who hit .482 with 23 steals last year. The Sharks also return senior Brady Carter, their ace and also a second-team selection as a third baseman last spring.

Defending league champion Forest Park will have to replace the 1-2 pitching combo of Robbie Stoss and Tommy Wells, and will need junior Griffin Boone, a first-team all-district second baseman last season, to step into a leadership role while senior Nick Davis slides into the role as coach Steve DeNard’s ace.

While the Bruins look to replace two quality arms, Woodbridge returns a very good duo on the mound in seniors Magnus Ellerts and Jack Lamb. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Ellerts was a first-team All-Region 6C selection after going 5-2 with a 1.82 ERA and 81 strikeouts to just 19 walks in 50 innings, and Lamb recorded a team-high four saves and should take on a bigger innings load this year.

C.D. Hylton continues to rebuild three years after making its most-recent state tournament appearance, and coach Jason Ritenour’s team will be led this year by junior Ethan Marotske, a second-team all-region pick after hitting .390 last year who can play all eight defensive positions.

Gar-Field is in rebuilding mode after graduating one of the area’s best two-way players in Marty Neal as well as a number of other key contributors. Junior Gavin Bassett (.318) will need to have a big campaign if the Indians are to make a push for a second straight regional appearance. At Freedom-Woodbridge, first-year coach Joe Terrien takes over as the program’s ninth coach in 10 years and will be playing catch-up after being hired just before the start of the season.

Coaches Poll
1. Potomac (48)
2. Colgan (36)
3. Forest Park (34)
4. Woodbridge (32)
5. C.D. Hylton (21)
6. Gar-Field (17)
7. Freedom-Woodridge (8)
* points awarded via votes by league coaches, descending from 7 for 1st place, 6 for 2nd place, etc.

Mag’s Predictions
District Champion:
Player of the Year: Ryley Johnson, Jr., OF, Colgan
Pitcher of the Year: Brody Mack, Sr., LHP, Potomac

Potomac Panthers
Head Coach:
Mike Covington, 26th year (441-191)
2018 Record: 22-5 overall, 9-3 district
Key Losses: CF T.J. Reney; SS Brandon Cleveland; LF Matt Celio; RHP Blake Gatewood
Key Returners: Sr. LHP/OF Brody Mack; Sr. 3B Julian Cumba; Sr. RHP/UT Josue Cumba; Sr. RHP Nate Saber
College Bound: Brody Mack (William & Mary); Jackson Lowrey (SUNY Purchase)
Coach’s Comments: “We have good team speed and pitching depth, and should compete for the Cardinal District championship this spring.”

Colgan Sharks
Head Coach:
Mike Colangelo, 3rd year (17-27)
2018 Record: 12-11 overall, 6-6 district
Key Losses: IF/RHP Ethan Laird; 1B Nick Fontana; C Vinny Lampasona; OF Matt Kane
Key Returners: Jr. OF Ryley Johnson; Sr. RHP/3B Brady Carter
College Bound: Ryley Johnson (East Carolina); Jackson Horton (Ferrum)
Coach’s Comments: “We should be competitive, but [we are] young. We have only three seniors. We’ve got a great group of players and I’m looking forward to a enjoyable season.”

Forest Park Bruins
Head Coach:
Steve DeNard, 5th year (55-32); 15th year overall (N/A)
2018 Record: 13-11 overall, 8-4 district
Key Losses: RHP/3B Robbie Stoss; RHP Tommy Wells
Key Returners: Jr. IF Griffin Boone; Jr. IF Dominick Proctor; Sr. RHP/IF Nick Davis
College Bound: Nick Davis (Roanoke)
Coach’s Comments: “We are returning a young team with three returning infielders coming off a 2018 district title.”

Woodbridge Vikings
Head Coach:
Jim Hoffman, 3rd year (29-13)
2018 Record: 13-7 overall, 8-4 district
Key Losses: OF Bryce Ross; C/IF Hunter Steel; OF Jakobe Anderson
Key Returners: Sr. RHP Magnus Ellerts; Sr. RHP Jack Lamb; Sr. C Will Pope; Sr. 1B Ian Briddell; So. 2B Hiett; So. SS Chris Hund
College Bound: Magnus Ellerts (Harford CC); Jack Lamb (Bryant and Stratton CC); Will Pope (Chesapeake CC)
Coach’s Comments: “We are  looking forward to this season, we have a mix of seniors and talented youth. We let a few close games with the lead slip away from us last year against very good teams and look for consistency. We are surrounded by good teams and good coaches in our district and will have to remain focused to be successful.”

C.D. Hylton Bulldogs
Head Coach:
Jason Ritenour, 5th year (53-36); 14th year overall (194-114)
2018 Record: 9-12 overall, 5-7 district
Key Losses: 1B Daniel Hupart; OF Ethan Semones
Key Returners: Sr. C Nick Ericsson; Jr. UTL Ethan Marotske
College Bound: Nick Ericsson (Virginia Commonwealth); Kaileb Swanger Vanderveen (Winston-Salem State); Malachi Groff (Arkansas Pine Bluff)
Coach’s Comments: “We have a good mix of experience and youth. Must get better offensively.”

Gar-Field Indians
Head Coach:
Nick Grove, 2nd year (15-7); 6th year overall (57-47)
2018 Record: 15-7 overall, 6-6 district
Key Losses: RHP/SS Marty Neal, RHP Dominic Hoyle; OF Miles Lawhorn
Key Returners: Jr. RHP/IF Gavin Bassett; Jr. RHP/IF Drew Early
College Bound: None committed
Coach’s Comments: “We will be very young and inexperienced. This is definitely a rebuilding time for the Indians. The team lost seven starters from last year's regional qualifier. We will will be counting a large contingent of new varsity players who have very limited playing time at the high school level. The season could be a very rough one for the Indians, but the team will compete and play hard every time out. The goal for this team is to be competitive in games and improve on a daily basis as we build toward the future.”

Freedom-Woodbridge Eagles
Head Coach:
Joe Terrien, 1st year (0-0)
2018 Record: 1-18 overall, 0-12 district
Key Losses: C Reese Hall
Key Returners: Sr. RHP/UT Josh Hopkins; Sr. RHP/SS Juan Cardenas
College Bound: None committed
Coach’s Comments: “We are looking towards the future. Everything we do is building towards tomorrow. With only a week to practice before the season started, we are way behind every other team. We will focus this year on the fundamentals and building up the program.”

Photo of Potomac’s Brody Mack by Joey Kamide and of Colgan’s Brady Carter by Johnny Kraft

Cedar Run District Preview: Deep Staffs to Fuel Favorites Battlefield, Patriot

March 14 - Armed with deep pitching staffs, Battlefield and Patriot look to again be the class of the Cedar Run District this spring.

The Bobcats return senior Zach Agnos, a East Carolina recruit and member of the 2018 NOVA Nine Team who has started since he stepped on campus at the Haymarket school. Agnos has a fastball that reaches into the low 90s and is coming off a junior campaign in which he went 4-1 with two saves, a 2.26 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 40.1 innings.

He’ll serve as the ace of a staff that also includes senior right-hander Matt Michel, who transferred back to the school after earning first-team VISAA Division II all-state honors last year at Highland School. Michel will pitch at Division II East Stroudsburg next year.

As good as the Bobcats’ pitching should be, the biggest factor in their success could be how well they swing it. Specifically, how well the likes of leadoff man Craig Miles and outfielder Carter Cunningham, a Gardner-Webb signee, hit and provide Agnos (.404, 3 HR, 24 RBI) with protection could determine how deep a postseason run coach Jay Burkhart’s club will make.

The Pioneers, meanwhile, are also very deep on the mound. Atop the rotation will be junior Riley Eikhoff, a Virginia recruit who struggled at times last spring but coach Josh Steinberg hopes will bounce back this year. Patriot also returns senior Liam Fonner, who will pitch next year at Division II Frostburg State, as well as junior left-handers Luke Basler (2-0, 1.94 ERA) and A.J. Escobar (2-1, 2.07 ERA).

Also much like Battlefield, the Pioneers have questions offensively after graduating the district’s Player of the Year, Brian Rall, as well as all-region shortstop Hunter Meade and outfielder Willie Balkin. Eikhoff and junior first baseman Conor Jersey (.308) will be asked to shoulder much of that load.

Osbourn Park returns one of the area’s top outfielders in junior Shane Saunders (.484, 14 steals) along with junior right-hander Cameron Mozingo-Morales, a second-team All-Region 6D selection, to its young core. The Yellow Jackets have five returners who were named first- or second-team all-district, and they add talented freshmen catchers Mason Balsis and A.J. Shepard, who have already committed to Division I programs.

A talented young core also exists at Osbourn, which returns two second-team all-district picks in senior Chris Barragan and sophomore Alex Brown (.329). Stonewall Jackson, which begins a new era under former Osbourn Park coach John Miller, also returns two second-team all-league selections in junior Ronaldo Pulinario and sophomore Garison Obcemea.

Coaches Poll
1t. Battlefield (18)
1t. Patriot (18)
3. Osbourn Park (12)
4. Osbourn (7)
5. Stonewall Jackson (5)
* points awarded via votes by league coaches, descending from 5 for 1st place, 4 for 2nd place, etc.
Note: Osbourn Park coach Jack Ferrick did not respond to multiple requests, therefor poll results were based on responses from the other four coaches.

Mag’s Predictions
District Champion:
Player of the Year: Zach Agnos, Sr., RHP/SS, Battlefield
Pitcher of the Year: Riley Eikhoff, RHP/SS, Patriot

Battlefield Bobcats
Head Coach:
Jay Burkhart, 9th year (137-54); 11th year overall (162-72)
2018 Record: 19-6 overall, 7-1 district
Key Losses: C Reese Varley; 1B Austin Estridge; 3B/RHP Casey Rosenthal; 2B Jonah Seagears
Key Returners: Sr. RHP/SS Zach Agnos; Sr. OF/1B Carter Cunningham; Sr. OF Craig Miles; Sr. RHP J.T. McGuire; Jr. C Peter Benavides; Jr. C Jacob Lawler; Sr. RHP Matt Michel (transfer)
College Bound: Zach Agnos (East Carolina); Carter Cunningham (Gardner-Webb); Matt Michel (East Stroudsburg)
Coach’s Comments: “We will be an older staff on the mound. Have to fill a few key spots with some of the youth that will be on the varsity this season. Our pitching should carry us until we can establish those open areas.”

Patriot Pioneers
Head Coach:
Josh Steinberg, 4th year (50-19)
2018 Record: 13-7 overall, 6-2 district
Key Losses: C Brian Rall; SS Hunter Meade; OF Willie Balkin; OF Michael Fyvie; OF Will Heltibridle
Key Returners: Jr. RHP/SS Riley Eikhoff; Sr. OF/RHP Jaden Minnick; Jr. LHP Luke Basler; Jr. LHP AJ Escobar; Jr. 1B Conor Jersey
College Bound: Riley Eikhoff (Virginia); Liam Fonner (Frostburg State)
Coach’s Comments: “We will have a lot of new faces in the field, but bring back an experienced yet young pitching staff. The 2019 season will come down to our ability for play clean defense and generate runs. We are confident in our depth of arms on the mound, and feel like we have multiple arms that can give us a chance to win any game.”

Osbourn Park Yellow Jackets
Head Coach:
Jack Ferrick, 7th year (72-50); 8th year overall (72-68)
2018 Record: 11-10 overall, 5-3 district
Key Losses: 3B Jacob Shulman; OF Josh Brown; 2B Pedro Mendez; OF Justice Beauvais
Key Returners: Jr. OF Shane Saunders; Jr. RHP/1B Cameron Mozingo-Morales; Sr. C Mario Duarte; Jr. 1B Jack Braley; Jr. SS Jed Barrett; So. RHP Liam Gannon
College Bound: Fr. C Mason Balsis (Virginia); Fr. C A.J. Shepard
Coach’s Comments: Did not respond to multiple requests for team info and comment.

Osbourn Eagles
Head Coach:
Andrew Haden, 3rd year (14-30)
2018 Record: 5-17 overall, 2-6 district
Key Losses: RHP/OF Brandon Lee; C Cameron Lane; RHP/OF Alex Veliz
Key Returners: So. 1B/OF/LHP Alex Brown; Sr. 2B Chris Barragan; So. SS Gabriel Villani; Sr. 3B Cole Reddington; So. 2B D.J. Muirhead
College Bound: None committed
Coach’s Comments: “With a core of young talent, we’re looking to build and compete in the Cedar Run District. With the right mindset and senior leadership, we can make some noise this season. Six defensive starters return from the 2018 team.”

Stonewall Jackson Raiders
Head Coach:
John Miller, 1st year (0-0)
2018 Record: 2-17 overall, 0-8 district
Key Losses: OF Jeremy Rodriguez
Key Returners: Jr. OF Ronaldo Pulinario; Jr. OF Eric Sledge; Jr. 2B Steven Thorne; Jr. RHP/SS Mark Klein; Sr. 3B Mitchell Breeding; Jr. 1B/RHP Ryan Costello
College Bound: None committed
Coach’s Comments: “With eight returning players with starting experience, this promises to be an improved season for the Raiders. Hopefully, the new coaching staff can re-energize an experienced but still young team.”

Photos of Battlefield’s Zach Agnos and Patriot’s Riley Eikhoff by Fred Ingham

The Rundown: Eisert’s Big Day Leads O’Connell Past Jefferson, 7-0

March 14 - Eddie Eisert went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI while Peter Colevas and Will Pickford combined for 14 strikeouts and a three-hit shutout as Bishop O’Connell opened its season with a 7-0 win at Jefferson last night.

Eisert, an N.C. State recruit and a first-team All-WCAC selection last spring, connected on a solo shot in the top of the third inning to break a scoreless tie, and the aggressive Knights stole nine bases while scoring in each of the final five frames against four Colonial pitchers. Colevas and Chris Black also had run-scoring hits.

Colevas fanned eight while allowing one hit over four scoreless innings to earn the win. Pickford, a Virginia Tech signee, struck out six in three innings. O’Connell opens its conference schedule on Saturday at Good Counsel (MD).

Here are recaps of yesterday’s games involving teams from the Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll:

No. 6 Potomac 11, Stonewall Jackson 1 - Brody Mack drove in three runs and permitted one run on three hits over four innings to earn the decision in a game halted early by the 10-run mercy rule. Josue Cumba fanned three in a scoreless inning of relief, and Matt Drumgold had three hits to pace the Panthers. Mark Klein had two hits for the Raiders.

South Lakes 6, No. 8 Chantilly 5 - Garrett O’Connor hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth to give the Seahawks an upset win in the season-opener for both teams. Ryan Dooley went 3-for-3 with two walks, a double, triple and two RBI to pace South Lakes offensively, while Shane Stiehl tossed four scoreless innings to earn the win. Kyle Hodinko went 2-for-4 with a double and four RBI for the Chargers, who used seven pitchers.

Georgetown Prep (MD) 5, No. 9 Paul VI Catholic 2 - Four Little Hoyas pitchers combined on a no-hitter as the Panthers dropped their second straight to open the season. Richie Smiechowski took the loss after allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits over three innings. Bradley Gagen, a freshman left-hander committed to Virginia, made his high school debut and struck out two over 1.2 scoreless innings of relief.

Top 10 Today: Forest Park at No. 1 Battlefield; No. 3 Freedom-South Riding at No. 4 Riverside

Other Games: Jake DeLisi and Vince DiMauro combined for eight strikeouts and didn’t allow a hit in a 11-0 win over Skyline that was called after five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule. Luke Binsted was 2-for-3 with a triple and three RBI to pace the Tigers’ offense … Tyler James had three hits in Falls Church’s 6-3 win over School Without Walls (D.C.) … Nick Davis struck out seven and allowed one unearned run over 4.2 innings and Chase Stoltmann had two hits to pace Forest Park in a 3-1 win over Osbourn Park … Aiden Tierney went 2-for-4 with a double and four RBI and Jake Wortman, A.J. Zeak, Aidan Henderson and Tim Chamernik also had two hits as Colonial Forge beat Mountain View, 14-4.

Photo of Eddie Eisert courtesy of Bishop O’Connell Baseball

The Rundown: Lawson Shines in Debut; No. 1 Bobcats, No. 3 Eagles Avoid Upsets

March 13 - Cortland Lawson’s debut couldn’t have gone much better.

The senior shortstop and right-handed pitcher, who has signed to play at Tennessee, went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI and struck out five of the six batters while earning the save in Dominion’s 5-3 season-opening win over visiting James Wood last night.

Lawson, who transferred from Paul VI Catholic between semesters, doubled in his first at-bat as a member of the Titans and added a go-ahead two-run single in the fourth to provide the game’s final margin. Armed with a fastball that has been clocked in the high-80s, he came in with one out and the bases loaded in the sixth and proceeded to fan the next two batters on six pitches.

Dominion also got two hits and two RBI from Xavier Ruley. Mario Canestraro earned the win after permitting three runs (one earned) in four innings.

Here are recaps of games over the past two days involving teams from the Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll:

No. 1 Battlefield 5, Colgan 4 - Zach Agnos went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI and Craig Miles was 3-for-3 with two doubles and two runs as the Bobcats built a 5-1 lead in the third inning and held on in Monday’s season-opener for both teams. Agnos earned the win after striking out six while allowing three runs (two earned) in 4.1 innings, and Colby Vollmer earned the two-inning save. Ryley Johnson reached three times, stole a base and scored twice for the Sharks.

No. 3 Freedom-South Riding 2, Loudoun Valley 0 - Zach Hoenig squeezed in the game’s first run in the top of the ninth inning and the Eagles added a second on a bases-loaded walk later in the inning to escape in the season-opener for both teams. Bryce Eisenreich struck out five in 4.1 innings, Connor Kolarov didn’t allow a hit in four innings in relief and earned the win, and Casey Cook got the final two outs for the save. David Gingras had two hits and Michael Grupe scattered two hits over six scoreless innings for the Vikings.

Top 10 Today: Stonewall Jackson at No. 6 Potomac; No. 8 Chantilly at South Lakes; Georgetown Prep at No. 9 Paul VI Catholic

Other Games: Josh Lupo had a three-run double during a seven-run top of the seventh while Owen Bellamy and Jaden Isidro each had two hits and an RBI as Brooke Point rallied to beat Massaponax, 9-4 … Dylan Saale struck out seven while scattering four hits over 6.2 innings, tossing 109 pitches in Heritage’s 8-2 win over Tuscarora … Riley Eikhoff drove in three runs while Jaden Mininick and Brian Wilson had two apiece and Luke Basler and Bert Redding combined for eight strikeouts in five innings as Patriot beat C.D. Hylton, 11-1 … Aidan Henning and relievers Nathan Knowles and Ryan Salsburgh combined for 16 strikeouts and Knowles had two doubles and three RBI as Yorktown beat host Fairfax, 6-1 … Sam Dozier permitted just one hit over five scoreless innings and Aidan Lowe ws 2-for-3 with two RBI in Washington-Lee’s 11-0 win over Edison … Owen Ledford started and went five innings and Hunter Timarchi tossed three scoreless innings in relief and earned the win when Cody Carter drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning in North Stafford’s 2-0 win over Riverbend … James Albritton had three hits, including two doubles, and Daniel Peterson went four innings to earn the decision as Hayfield beat Lee, 13-1.

Photo of Battlefield’s Craig Miles by Fred Ingham

Gunston District Preview: Wolverines Eye 2nd Straight Title as Linza Era Begins

March 12 - After going a quarter-century between league championships, West Potomac ushers in a new era under first-year coach Jimmy Linza as the favorite to win a second consecutive Gunston District title.

Despite losing senior right-hander Tyler Rulapaugh, a George Mason recruit, to season-ending elbow surgery, the Wolverines return a deep pitching staff that will be anchored by Jimmy Curley. Another Division I signee who will pitch at High Point, Curley went 6-1 with a 1.60 ERA en route to second-team All-Region 6C honors as West Potomac overcame off-field drama and injuries on the field to win the league before falling in the regional quarterfinals to W.T. Woodson.

Enter Linza, who has led two of the district’s other teams - Mount Vernon and Hayfield - to a combined four championships and takes the reigns after longtime coach Jim Sullivan stepped down. Linza has added former Wakefield skipper George Baker as his pitching coach, and depth at that position remains a strength despite the loss of Rulapaugh with the return of left-handers Jack Bachmore (2-3, 3.98 ERA), a first-team all-district selection as a pitcher and outfielder last year, and junior Adam Fischer.

T.C. Williams took a hit with the loss of Evan Waldner, a first-team all-district outfielder who was expected to be the Titans’ ace but has left the team. Nonetheless, second-year coach David Latham returns a talented young core led by junior shortstop Shane Tucker and sophomore catcher Josh Goodrich, who were second-team all-region picks a year ago. Also back are two juniors, outfielder Story Everett (.343) and first baseman Nathan Keough (16 RBI), and junior lefty Jaden Cox (1.92 ERA in 21.2 IP) and senior Jack Goodrich (3.21 ERA in 28 IP) will look to carry the load in Waldner’s absence.

Hayfield hopes to play spoiler behind a lineup led by junior utility man Jonathan Woolsey (.310) and junior second baseman Sam Graziano (.355). The Hawks’ get a lift with the addition of West Potomac transfer Logan Watts, who will team with junior Daniel Peterson (3.25 ERA) to anchor the staff.

Annandale’s young core is a year older, but might still be a year away from its first winning season since 2016. The Atoms will be led by sophomore Danny Salisbury, a two-way threat who earned second-team all-region honors as a first baseman last spring. He is one of six freshmen or sophomores who will be in coach Chris Bagot’s lineup.

First-year coach Jeff Fleetwood takes over at Mount Vernon, which returns senior second baseman Dewin Martinez, a first-team all-league pick, and junior third baseman Jake Coakley, a second-team selection.

Coaches Poll
1. West Potomac (22)
2. T.C. Williams (20)
3. Hayfield (17)
4. Annandale (10)
5. Mount Vernon (6)
* points awarded via votes by league coaches, descending from 5 for 1st place, 4 for 2nd place, etc.

Mag’s Predictions
District Champion:
West Potomac
Player of the Year: Shane Tucker, Jr., SS, T.C. Williams
Pitcher of the Year: Jimmy Curley, Sr., RHP, West Potomac

West Potomac Wolverines
Head Coach:
Jimmy Linza, 1st year (0-0), 10th year overall (130-64)
2018 Record: 13-9 overall, 8-0 district
Key Losses: OF Alec Roberts; RHP Tyler Rulapaugh (injured); 1B Liam McClanahan; SS Justin Shelton; OF Sam Meyer; OF Vinny Crawn; IF Kurt Sullivan
Key Returners: Sr. RHP Jimmy Curley; Sr. LHP/OF Jack Bachmore; Jr. LHP Adam Fischer
College Bound: Jimmy Curley (High Point); Tyler Rulapaugh (George Mason); Jack Bachmore (Lynchburg)
Coach’s Comments: “The Wolverines will be young, with only five seniors. We are losing nearly all of our offensive production from last year as eight players who were on the all-district team have graduated, plus one college commit who recently underwent season-ending arm surgery. We will have to battle at the plate, plus lean on a deep staff of arms to compete in the much-improved Gunston District this year.”

T.C. Williams Titans
Head Coach:
Dave Latham, 2nd year (13-9)
2018 Record: 13-9 overall, 6-2 district
Key Losses: OF Ben Wilson; OF Octavio Orona; OF/RHP Evan Waldner
Key Returners: So. C Josh Goodrich; Jr. SS Shane Tucker; Sr. LHP Jack Goodrich; Jr. OF/RHP Story Everett; Jr. 1B Nathan Keough; Jr. OF/LHP Jaden Cox
College Bound: None committed
Coach’s Comments: “Strong pitching staff with good defense behind them. Young, but promising bats in the lineup.”

Hayfield Hawks
Head Coach:
Mike Shore, 8th year (56-85)
2018 Record: 5-15 overall, 2-6 district
Key Losses: C Kofi Aboagy-Namye; RHP/OF Alejandro Rodriguez; SS Braeden Muir
Key Returners: Jr. UTL Jonathan Woolsey; Sr. OF Nick Newry; Jr. RHP Daniel Peterson; Jr. 2B/RHP Sam Graziano; Sr. OF Alexander Guidinetti
College Bound: Logan Watts (Mary Washington), Alexander Guidinetti (St. Elizabeths)
Coach’s Comments: “I am very excited for the season. The kids put in a lot of work between the end of last season and the start of this season. We have had to overcome a major obstacle in not having our field this season but all of the kids have been very positive towards us going over to the turf field at South County for practices and games. This is one of the best group of kids I have ever had as far as their attitude, work ethic and willingness to get better every day.”

Annandale Atoms
Head Coach:
Chris Bagot, 3rd year (8-35)
2018 Record: 7-15 overall, 2-6 district
Key Losses: C Ryan Gammon; RHP/1B Travis Beacom
Key Returners: So. RHP/1B Danny Salisbury; Sr. 3B/RHP Alex Brennan; Sr. OF/RHP Ethan Zimmerman
College Bound: None committed
Coach’s Comments: “[We] are going to be young again, starting five sophomores and a freshman. Seniors Alex Brennan and Ethan Zimmerman will be key in how far this team will go. Brennan brings a steady glove and a power bat to the middle of the lineup, and Zimmerman has shown a combination of patience and power from the leadoff spot. Danny Salisbury will be the No. 1 pitcher again and hit near the top of the lineup, and he paced the offense by hitting over .400 last year.”

Mount Vernon Majors
Head Coach:
Jeff Fleetwood, 1st year (0-0)
2018 Record: 2-18 overall, 2-6 district
Key Losses: RHP/UT Roberto Ocampo; IF/RHP Timmy Heltzel
Key Returners: Sr. 2B Dewin Martinez; Jr. 3B Jake Coakley; Jr. OF Weston Rogers; So. 3B Peter Dunn
College Bound: None committed
Coach’s Comments: “[We are] very young, with a lack experience at the varsity level which will show at times. Good core group of juniors and sophomores that are hungry to compete. We’re looking to compete and get better each and every week, and looking to be in the mix for the third seed in the Gunston and earn a berth to regionals.”

Photos of Annandale’s Danny Salisbury and West Potomac’s Jimmy Curley courtesy of their respective programs

Battlefield Tops Preseason Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll

March 11 - Battlefield received 13 of 41 first-place votes and tops the preseason Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll, sponsored by Prime Time Baseball in Alexandria.

The Bobcats, who open their season tonight against Colgan, return one of the area’s deepest pitching staffs, led by two-way standout Zach Agnos, a member of the 2018 NOVA Nine Team. Coach Jay Burkhart’s club went 19-6 last year, winning the Region 6D championship before falling to Lake Braddock in the Class 6 state quarterfinals.

Battlefield received 320 points from the magazine’s selection committee consisting of head coaches and members of the local media. Seven teams got first-place votes on the preseason ballot.

At No. 2 is Madison, which received 289 points and eight first-place votes as it enters its 24th season under Mark ‘Pudge’ Gjormand. The Warhawks, who went 15-7 and won the Concorde District championship in their first year in the league last spring, are eyeing a seventh consecutive district title and a deep postseason run behind one of the area’s best left-handed pitchers in senior Matt Howat.

Madison will open its season on Friday at defending Class 6 state champion West Springfield, which is ranked No. 5 after getting 183 points and six first-place votes. The Spartans went 24-5 under coach Jason Olms last year, and by winning their fourth state title tied the Warhawks for the most among Northern Virginia public schools.

Ahead of the Spartans are No. 3 Freedom-South Riding and No. 4 Riverside, who will square off in another early-season clash of top-five teams on Thursday in Leesburg. Coach Mark Wrighte’s Eagles, coming off a 22-5 season that saw them win the Region 5C championship, got 273 points and seven first-place votes. The Rams, who were 19-3 last year behind returning NOVA Nine Team selection Carson Swank, had 185 points and two first-place votes. Coach Sam Plank’s team was the lone Class 4 representative in the rankings.

No. 6 Potomac received 182 points and four first-place votes, and coach Mike Covington’s club looks primed for another playoff run after winning the Region 5D title and advancing to the Class 5 state final last year. The Panthers, who went 22-5 in 2018, return workhorse two-way standout Brody Mack, another returning member of the NOVA Nine Team.

The poll is rounded out by No. 7 Lake Braddock, which got 179 points and the remaining first-place vote, followed by No. 8 Chantilly, No. 9 Paul VI Catholic and No. 10 Briar Woods.

The Bruins begin a new era under former McLean coach John Thomas after longtime skipper Jody Rutherford stepped down after leading them to a 21-5 record and a berth the Class 6 state tournament. The Chargers, who caught fire late last season to clinch a fourth Class 6 state tournament berth in five years under coach Kevin Ford, received 97 points. The Panthers, who went 24-7 under coach Billy Emerson and reached the VISAA Division I state semifinals, got 80 points. And the Falcons, who went 18-7 under coach Rob Sikora and advanced to a second straight Class 5 state tournament after winning the title the previous spring, received 67 points.

Another 23 schools received votes in the preseason poll, including: Bishop O'Connell (54), Fauquier (51), Centreville (39), Highland School (39), Patriot (27), Westfield (26), Woodgrove (25), Robinson (23), McLean (21), Marshall (17), Flint Hill (13), Brentsville District (13), Stafford (11), Spotsylvania (10), Loudoun Valley (9), Colgan (7), Woodbridge (4), T.C. Williams (3), Yorktown (3), West Potomac (2), Kettle Run (1), South Lakes (1) and Stone Bridge (1).

The magazine is in the midst of its league previews, and will also preview each of the individual Top 10 teams this week.

Sponsor: The magazine’s Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll is sponsored by the Prime Time Baseball Academy. For more information on the academy, visit its website at

Photo of Battlefield coach Jay Burkhart by Fred Ingham

Liberty District Preview: Merritt, Highlanders Hope to Spoil Yorktown's Repeat Bid

March 10 - Ben Koomey’s game-winning home run to beat South Lakes and give Yorktown its first Liberty District championship in six years was one of the area’s top moments in 2018.

For the Patriots to repeat this spring, Koomey and his teammates will likely have to go through a rather large obstacle: a 6-foot-6, 210-pound obstacle, to be exact. That’s the size of McLean’s towering ace, Teddy Merritt, a junior right-hander who went 5-3 with a 1.99 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 53 innings last year and is the main reason the Liberty coaches picked the Highlanders to win the league.

McLean claimed the top seed in the district tournament last spring, but was blitzed in the semifinals, 13-2, by a Yorktown team that was in the midst of a late-season five-game winning streak. Behind a staff led by Merritt and a lineup paced by first-team all-district outfielder Anthony Farmakides (.370, 12 RBI) and infielders Jackson Kantor (.370) and Tio Graybill (22 steals), the Highlanders appear ready to contend again in coach John Dowling’s sixth season.

The Patriots, who broke through for their first winning season under coach John Skaggs, graduated the league’s Player of the Year in Carson Wood and a handful of other experienced bats. Nonetheless, Yorktown is expected to be in the mix again behind senior left-hander Aidan Henning (5-1) and a lineup featuring Koomey and Will Porter (.325, 2 HR), the quarterback for the school’s football team who is expected to help fill the leadership void left by Wood and Tanner Wall.

South Lakes was hit the hardest of any Liberty team by graduation, but the Seahawks return perhaps the district’s best player in junior Ryan Dooley (.306, 20 RBI, 11 steals), a Virginia Military Institute recruit who will slide over to the shortstop position previously manned by his brother, Jack. The program has qualified for regionals in each of its first four seasons under coach Morgan Spencer, and his club’s ability to do so again this spring will depend on how several new starters produce around Dooley and whether talented junior right-hander Jack Thompson is able to emerge as the team’s ace after the loss of workhorses Josh Taylor and Jack Nathan.

The league’s third and fourth regional berths will likely be a four-team race between South Lakes along with Herndon, Langley and Washington-Lee.

The Hornets have one of the district’s best athletes in two-way threat Mike Jones, but will need several youngsters to mature quickly around him in coach Chris Metz’ second season. The Saxons, under first-year coach Jared Sronce, added an impact transfer in junior middle infielder William Bean, who has committed to play at West Virginia University. And Washington-Lee, now led by former longtime Langley coach Kevin Healy, will be led by senior Trey Haley, a first-team all-district pick last spring.

Coaches Poll
1. McLean (31)
2. Yorktown (30)
3. South Lakes (26)
4. Langley (15)
5. Washington-Lee (14)
6. Herndon (11)
* points awarded via votes by league coaches, descending from 6 for 1st place, 5 for 2nd place, etc.

Mag’s Predictions
District Champion:
Player of the Year: Ryan Dooley, Jr., IF, South Lakes
Pitcher of the Year: Teddy Merritt, Jr., RHP, McLean

McLean Highlanders
Head Coach:
John Dowling, 6th year (68-45), 8th year overall (79-77)
2018 Record: 14-8 overall, 8-2 district
Key Losses: LHP Max Groppe, C Grant Williams, RHP James Beahn
Key Returners: Jr. RHP Teddy Merritt, Jr. OF Anthony Farmakides, Sr. IF Jackson Kantor, Jr. IF Tio Graybill
College Bound: None Committed
Coach’s Comments: “We graduated an outstanding group that included some of the best competitors and best leaders we've ever had. Their shoes are going to be very hard to fill. That said, the early returns this year are very encouraging. While there are a lot of new faces, most are coming from a JV team that went 12-2 and thus far they've committed to getting after it every day in practice. We put together the toughest non-district schedule we could [with games against West Springfield, Chantilly, Madison, Centreville] to help prepare us for what we expect to be a very competitive Liberty District again.”

Yorktown Patriots
Head Coach:
John Skaggs, 5th year (33-53)
2018 Record: 13-11 overall, 6-4 district
Key Losses: OF Carson Wood; OF Tanner Wall; 3B John Merlene; 2B Andrew Simmons
Key Returners: Sr. LHP Aidan Henning; Sr. IF Will Porter; Sr. IF Jonah Margosis; Sr. C Ben Koomey
College Bound: Aidan Henning (Christopher Newport); Ben Koomey (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
Coach’s Comments: “We lost some big bats last year but we have a lot of arms coming back that will keep us in games. We still have a good amount of power coming back along with a lot of hungry underclassmen looking to make a name for themselves. This will be a senior-lead team with 10 seniors.”

South Lakes Seahawks
Head Coach:
Morgan Spencer, 5th year (52-40), 11th year overall (115-109)
2018 Record: 15-9 overall, 6-4 district
Key Losses: RHP Josh Taylor; LHP Jack Nathan; IF Jack Dooley; OF Will Irwin; C Avery Neaves; OF Cooper Rosner
Key Returners: Jr. IF Ryan Dooley; Jr. RHP Jack Thompson; Sr. IF/RHP Braden Huebsch; Sr. C Clayton Long
College Bound: Ryan Dooley (Virginia Military Institute); Clayton Long (College of Idaho)
Coach’s Comments: “I am very excited about this yea'r’s team. We have nine seniors who have worked extremely hard and are very hungry to make an impact this year. We have a lot of players on our team that are unproven and anxious to compete for a Liberty District championship. It should be tight race again this year and I can't wait to watch this group get better every day.”

Langley Saxons
Head Coach:
Jared Sronce, 1st year (0-0)
2018 Record: 9-14 overall, 6-4 district
Key Losses: OF John Eames; RHP Kenny Lippman; IF Colter Carton
Key Returners: Jr. IF/RHP Nick Gasparis; Jr. OF/RHP Jack Hoeymans
College Bound: Jr. IF William Bean (West Virginia)
Coach’s Comments: “We graduated 82% of our innings thrown last year and 72% of our ABs. We will be young in terms of varsity playing time experience outside of Jack Hoeymans, Nick Gasparis and William Bean. Just like most high school teams, we will go as far as our pitching [takes us].”

Washington-Lee Generals
Head Coach:
Kevin Healy, 1st year (0-0), 11th year overall (116-113)
2018 Record: 9-12 overall, 1-9 district
Key Losses: 1B Ryan Edelstein; RHP/OF Mac Mulock; 2B Jake Ruge
Key Returners: Sr. IF Trey Haley; Jr. RHP/IF Sam Dozier; Sr. OF Sam Nichols; Sr. OF Jack Winslow; Sr. C Gus Nathanson; Sr. IF Aidan Lowe
College Bound: Trey Haley (Case Western)
Coach’s Comments: “This group has worked hard through the winter and I'm having fun with them in our early season practices. You're never sure what kind of hand you have dealt to you until the games start for real, but I've been very pleased with what some of the younger guys have been doing on the mound, and what some of the older guys have been doing at the plate in practice. This is a bunch of guys that haven't been in a regional tournament game yet, and they're hungry to get on that stage. I think if we maximize what we have we can get there.”

Herndon Hornets
Head Coach:
Chris Metz, 2nd year (8-11), 5th year overall (26-58)
2018 Record: 8-11 overall, 3-7 district
Key Losses: RHP/IF Joe Wright; LHP/OF Jabbari Smith
Key Returners: Sr. IF/RHP Mike Jones; Sr. OF/RHP Colin Jones; Sr. OF/RHP Colin Hagerup; Sr. OF/RHP Joe Shapiro; Jr. OF Eddie Ozycz; Jr. 1B/RHP Hayden Wilson
College Bound: Colin Jones (Dickinson)
Coach’s Comments: “This year we have a young core returning to our team. As a coaching staff, we are very excited and optimistic about what can and will happen this year at Herndon. We have seen great gains over the past year and is our belief that our program is making great strides.”

Photos of Yorktown’s Aidan Henning and South Lakes’ Ryan Dooley courtesy of their respective programs