Tough Loss Ends GM Baseball’s Season

By Steve Selby
Special to the Falls Church Times
May 28, 2014

It was not time for sports clichés: “You gave it your best;” or “You can’t win ‘em all;” or even “There’s always next year.”  No, no one wanted to say anything like that to the talented group of Mason varsity baseball players who had just lost a heart-breaker to Madison County in the opening round of playoffs. In an exciting game played on Memorial Day, the Mustangs came up short, and the fantastic roller-coaster of a season ended too soon.  With a 6-5 loss to Madison County, dreams of moving on in the playoffs, perhaps making the regional tournament, were dashed. The disappointed squad was left with the mundane chores of cleaning up the field, raking the mound, storing the gear – the kinds of chores you can do when your mind and heart are elsewhere.

Going into the game, the Mustangs knew that the #7 seed given to the Mountaineers was not a reflection of their ability or a true representation of their season.  Mason’s two regular season wins over the Mountaineers were by one and two runs. Mustang players were very aware that Madison had plenty of pop in its offense, as well as good pitching and defense.  They also knew that seven of Madison’s Bull Run District losses came on a total of nine runs. And, they were aware that two of those close losses had come against eventual Bull Run District champs Strasburg.  No, this was not a classic #2 vs. #7. This was a battle of equals, with perhaps a bit of an edge going to the Mountaineers who, as the sports cliché goes, had “nothing to lose.”

Pictured from L to R: Grant Hagler, Evan Davis, Gabe Terry. Photo: Gabby Abruzzi

Pictured from L to R: Grant Hagler, Evan Davis, Gabe Terry. Photo: Gabby Abruzzi

Within the relatively new conference system for playoffs, Mason bids good-bye to regular season foes William Monroe, Central Woodstock, Manassas Park and Warren County. The Mustangs are placed in Conference 35, a grouping which includes Mason, Madison, Strasburg, Clarke, Page County, Stonewall Jackson and Luray. Because of the weightings given to different regular season schedules, Luray emerged with a higher seeding than either Clarke or Madison, both of whom had more wins.  None of that mattered to the Mustangs; they understood that their route to advancing in the playoffs would involve a very tough roadblock presented by the Mountaineers.

As the game began, it looked like Mason’s offense would carry the day. After setting down Madison in the top of the first, the Mustangs jumped out to a quick lead.  Sam Selby and Chris Meador got things started with singles, followed by Marsden Davis bunting safely to load the bases. Evan Davis reached on a fielder’s choice, scoring Selby and moving Meador to third.  When Davis broke to steal second, Meador hustled home on the throw. Daniel Butler’s RBI single made it 3-0 and Gabe Terry’s double added another run for the Mustangs, giving them a 4-0 lead heading into the second.

Both teams were retired in order in the second inning. Madison got on the board in the third, with the key blow coming on a three-run home run by Sam Taylor, giving the Mountaineers a 5-4 lead heading into the bottom of third. Although Evan Davis reached on a single, Mason was not able to add to its score. Mason would again mount a threat in the bottom of the fourth when Selby walked and Meador singled. Both players advanced on a wild pitch, only to be stranded. Madison generated some offense in the top of the fifth with three singles, but Mason’s defense held. Evan Davis led off for Mason in the bottom of the fifth and ripped a shot to deep right field that had “triple” written all over it.  But, Madison’s right fielder Richie Medeiros made a great, running catch.

Trailing by one run heading in the bottom of the sixth inning, Mason got its lead-off hitter on base when Logan Nesson walked, moving to second on a wild pitch.  Zach Lang put down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Meador to third. Selby’s sacrifice fly scored Meador, tying the game.  Madison would get the lead back in the seventh, using singles by Dylan Berry and Taylor and a sacrifice fly by Nic Smith to take a 6-5 lead.  After Marsden Davis singled to start the bottom of the seventh, Madison’s defense held and the Moutaineers had their victory. Collin Shifflett went the distance for the Mountaineers, with Evan Davis and Logan Nesson handling the pitching responsibilities for the Mustangs.

Yes, there is always next season. This is a young Mason team, with only two seniors, Hagler and Connor Rhodes. While disappointed by their early exit from the playoffs, Coach Amerine’s squad has the character and talent to bounce back.  They will.

Hagler was selected to the Bull Run All District 1st Team at third base, and to the 2nd Team as a pitcher.


One Response to “Tough Loss Ends GM Baseball’s Season”

  1. Phil Duncan — City of Falls Church (703) 209-2005 on May 28th, 2014 1:17 pm

    Always difficult to advance in the baseball playoffs — traditionally there’s much small-school talent among Mason’s district & now conference opponents on the diamond. This loss notwithstanding, overall a season the Mustangs can be proud of. Thanks to intrepid correspondent Steve Selby for all the game-action writeups — high-class prose about first-class athletes.

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