Ashburn, Va. — The sun is staying up later and spring is just around the corner, which means one thing: baseball is back.
And the Briar Woods Falcons (0-0, 1-0) welcomed back America’s pastime with a season-opening win over the visiting Musselman Appleman, 10-2, on March 16 in Ashburn.
“It’s always good to get a win,” first-year Briar Woods head coach Ric Nickerson said. “You want to get [a win]to start the season to set the tone for the rest of the season.”
A dominant defensive performance for the Falcons was led by junior starting pitcher Jake Ludwig, who pitched the season opener on his 17th birthday. Ludwig struck out four over 4.1 innings of work, rebounding after a shaky start.
“I don’t think there’s any secret about Jake Ludwig,” Coach Nickerson said. “He’s been a top tier pitcher ever since he came up to varsity as a freshman.”
Ludwig struggled early, allowing one run to score in the top of the first, but bounced back forcing the final two outs of the inning, and in doing so, left two runners stranded on second and third.
“You have to find that spot in your mental game,” Ludwig said. “You have to be tough.”
Led by sophomore shortstop Max Lawson—who hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the first to give the Falcons the lead—the Briar Woods bats stayed hot throughout the night as the Falcons scored at least one run in all but the fourth inning.
Four batters after Lawson junior left fielder Jackson Vincent scored on a wild pitch to increase the Falcons’ lead to 3-1. Vincent then started the scoring in the second when he drove in senior second baseman Teddy Molthen on a single to the left side.
At that point, the Falcons were in complete control of the game and gave their bullpen some cushion heading into the later innings.
Sophomore pitcher Jacob Eckhaus came on in relief, struggling early,however, just like Ludwig, Eckhaus got into rhythm, allowing just one hit over his 2.2 innings of shutout relief.
“As long as [our pitchers]are in the zone, they will keep us competitive,” Coach Nickerson said.
The Appleman started strong, but the Falcons’ pitching staff kept Musselman off balance most of the night, allowing just a single run in the first and the fifth. The Appleman pitching staff also failed to settle in, allowing 10 free base runners by walk or hit by pitch.
Briar Woods will look to build on their early momentum when they host Rock Ridge on March 20 before traveling to Broad Run for a game on March 22.
“There’s always work to do. Tonight went well but it wasn’t a perfect game,” Nickerson said. “We’ve got things we still need to work on. We will come out tomorrow and work out our finer details, but tonight was good.”