Purcellville (May 8, 2013) – The Woodgrove High School Wolverines’ seven-run first inning proved to be plenty of support for their starting pitcher Kaleb Bowman who gave up one just unearned run while surrendering two hits through six innings in a 9-1 win over Dulles District baseball’s first place squad, Potomac Falls (14-4 overall, 12-2 in the district).
“Kaleb has been this way all year for us,” Woodgrove’s head coach Brad Bauder said of the sophomore. “He knows exactly what it takes to keep us in the game and getting him some run support early made him want to win even more.
Bauder’s squad laid down four bunts in the first inning, one for a single and three for sacrifices, as eight different players reached base safely.
Junior Matt Jeffery led off the bottom of the first for the Wolverines (10-5, 9-5) with a line drive single to the right field gap. Potomac Falls’ ace James Pearson got the next batter freshman Colin Reid to ground into what looked like a tailor made double play ball to the second baseman Charlie Curtis who dropped the groundball from his glove during his glove-to-hand transition.
Then sophomore Brendan Whitfield dropped a bunt on the left side of the mound and Pearson slipped on the wet grass while trying to make the play across his body. A passed ball to the next batter opened the scoring for the Wolverines as Jeffery came across the plate to put his team up 1-0.
“Potomac Falls is a very good all-around team and we know we were fortunate to capitalize early,” Bauder said of his team scoring seven times in the first inning against the No. 1 team in the LoCo Top 5. “We are a very young team and we believe we need to be ready to do whatever it takes to put runs on the board.”
With the bases loaded, following a walk to the cleanup hitter Hazen Dean, junior Will Hoffer laid down a bunt in front of the mound which Pearson proceeded to throw over the catcher’s head attempting to get the force out at the plate. The error allowed both Reid, who was on third to start the play, and the trail runner Whitfield to score on a bunt that landed less than 45-feet from the plate.
“Our whole line up is cable of bunting,” Bauder said. “We try to put pressure on other teams as much as we can either at the plate or on the bases.”
Following the error, designated hitter Davis Reagan smashed a groundball single up the middle to score both Dean and Hoffer before Bowman stepped up to the plate for the first time with his team already cushioning him with a 5-0 lead.
For the third time in the inning, a Wolverine squared to bunt and Bowman reached on another error by Pearson. Sophomore Ryan Hagan bunted back to Pearson during the next at-bat, driving in Reagan.
With two outs and two unearned runs already allowed, Pearson induced a routine groundball off the bat of the leadoff man Jeffery to the often sure handed senior shortstop Brandon Orbe, who picked his head up a few seconds too soon and let the ball roll past him into left field.
Pearson took the effort into his own hands after the Wolverines batted through the order in the first inning, striking out a swinging Reid.
Woodgrove pitching fared better as Bowman allowed only five base runners in his six innings of work which were interrupted with one out in the top of the second due to lightning.
The weather delay had little impact on Bowman’s performance as he came back after the 30-minute break to strike out the next two batters he faced.
“We know what Kaleb means to us so we never want to put him in any risk. After talking with him he felt his arm was stronger after the break than before,” Bauder said. “He isn’t the type of player that will walk away from a challenge. He has thrown against the top teams in our league all year and really wanted the ball.”
In the third, Bowman gave up his only run as Orbe crossed the plate on a Michael Smith sacrifice fly.
Senior Zachary Engelmann, who replaced Pearson on the hill after the lightning delay, escaped a bases loaded jam in the third getting the three-hitter Whitfield to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. After the third, Engelmann settled in allowing only one base runner in Jeffery who reached on an error in the fifth inning.
The Panthers will take on Tuscarora in Leesburg on Friday night and Park View at home next Tuesday, May 14, needing only one win to clinch the Dulles District regular season title and the district’s top seed heading into the Region II tournament.
Bauder’s Wolverines, who are currently in fourth place in the Dulles District after falling to Tuscarora 7-2 on the back end of their Wednesday night doubleheader, will play Park View in Sterling tonight and Loudoun County in Purcellville next Tuesday night to finish out their regular season.
“We have set some team goals awhile back and we are doing what we can to achieve them,” Bauder said. “If you don’t win our league out right then everything comes down to the first round of districts, and as you can tell every night in the Dulles is a tough game.”