Leesburg, Va. — In a tie game in the top of the third, Tuscarora senior center fielder Quentin Shin delivered the Huskies’ first big hit of the night: a two-run single to give his team a 2-0 lead. In the very next inning, Shin once again stepped into the box with runners on second and third, and again, the senior delivered with another two-run single. Shin’s run support was all Tuscarora junior ace Josh McCusker would need as he cruised through the Loudoun County High School lineup in a 6-2 Dulles District quarterfinal win on June 7 in Leesburg.
“Everybody committed to the game plan, and we turned the corner,” Tuscarora head coach Cole Shain said. “We pitched well the whole season. Defense has been straight the whole season. It really came down to offense, and we executed tonight. We took advantage of the little things and then guys executed when we needed it.”
With a 2-0 lead, and McCusker cruising, Tuscarora sophomore third baseman Cole Keel executed on a suicide squeeze in the fourth inning, scoring freshman outfielder Nicholas Sheehan, and setting Shin up with runners in scoring position.
“Playoff baseball is a tricky thing. If you’re hot at the right time, you can propel yourself forward,” Shain said. “Having Q come hot right at the moment is huge. I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s one of the hardest working kids we have.”
With two outs in the fourth, Shin delivered his second big hit of the night, plating sophomore shortstop Bauer Burkhart and senior courtesy runner Alex Hernandez.
“I got ahead in the count, so I was just sitting fastball and trying to hit it the opposite way,” Shin said. “It felt really good to get some hits tonight.”
Loudoun County sophomore southpaw Corey Costello never really settled, allowing 11 of the 21 batters he faced to reach safely. Costello was able to navigate out of jams in the first and second innings unscathed, but the Huskies made him pay the second and third time through the order.
After Costello’s exit, Tuscarora added an insurance run in the seventh on another suicide squeeze, this one laid down by Sheehan to score Shin.
While the Huskies manufactured runs throughout the night, the Captains failed to get anything going offensively. McCusker kept the Loudoun County lineup at bay, scattering five hits over his five innings of work.
The Captains did plate a run off McCusker in the fourth by way of an RBI single off the bat of sophomore DH Braydon Kelman.
Tuscarora freshman Brendan Cowen took the mound in the sixth, allowing one run on three hits, stunting any hopes Loudoun County had of a late rally.
Tuscarora’s win earns them a spot in a Dulles District semifinal where they’ll travel to No. 1 Broad Run on June 9. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.
“We have to battle,” McCusker said. “Last time, we kind of just laid down once they got some runners on, so this time we have to bring the energy and do our thing.”
Loudoun County Batting
|Josh McCusker (W)||5||5||1||1||0||7|
|Brendan Cowen (S)||2||3||1||1||0||2|
Loudoun County Pitching
|Corey Costello (L)||3.1||4||5||5||5||5|