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Prep Baseball Game Story: Carroll, Foxes make a statement

BY STEVE FRANZELLO

King George ace Damion Carroll was noticeably absent in the Foxes’ first meeting with Caroline last month. With Carroll in Texas on a college visit, the Cavaliers made the most of the opportunity and posted a 3–2 victory.

But on Friday night in the return match in front of a large home crowd that included former Foxes football standout Jermon Bushrod, the senior right-hander left no doubt that he was back.

Carroll tossed his second no-hitter of the season and drove in four runs with a pair of hits as King George cruised to an important 10–0 Battlefield District win.

With the victory, the Foxes (14–3 overall, 9–3 in the district) created a three-way logjam at the top of the district standings with Caroline (13–3, 9–3) and Spotsylvania (12–6, 9–3). All three teams conclude the regular season with two games next week.

“This was big tonight,” said King George coach Thad Reviello. “When Damion pounds the strike zone like he did tonight and gets ahead of people, he’s so tough.”

Carroll, who threw a perfect game against Brooke Point earlier this season, struck out nine and walked just one in six innings. He allowed just two base runners.

“I felt good,” Carroll said. “I could tell after the second or third strike that it was going to be a good day. You have to make a statement when you come out here.”

Carroll’s statement was clear on the mound with the way he was throwing, but he also made some noise at the plate and helped his own cause.

In the Foxes’ seven-run fifth, he helped break open a close contest with a bases-loaded double that brought in three runs.

In the bottom of the sixth, he ended the game with a sharp single to center field that plated center fielder Jordicq Estes. Estes had singled to start the inning.

“[Carroll] definitely brings the energy out,” said Foxes third baseman Zack Kegley, one of the team’s leading hitters. “When he plays like that, it makes us all play better.”

Seven players contributed hits to the King George offense, which produced eight hits in the game. Kegley, Estes and first baseman Dylan Dombrowskas all scored twice to pace the balanced attack.

With the way Carroll was pitching, he didn’t need much run production, but the Foxes scored twice in their first at-bat to help put him in control.

Dombrowskas walked and Kegley singled up the middle. With two outs, Caroline center fielder Zack Crabtree then lost Matthew Hunt’s deep fly ball in the sun, and both runners scored.

That was the extent of the scoring for the next four innings as Carroll and Cavaliers starter Joe Shiflett matched each other with scoreless frames.

Shiflett was effective, but walked eight. The Foxes eventually took advantage in the fifth, when they sent 13 batters to the plate and scored seven runs.

Hunt walked and alertly came home when Michael Hundley was forced out at second on a grounder by Cody Bell. Estes and David Hunt then both walked to load the bases for Carroll.

The Foxes pitcher lofted a fly ball over the outstretched glove of hustling Caroline first baseman Sean Pico, and all three runners scored to give King George a commanding 6–0 lead.

After Carroll scored from third on a passed ball, Dombrowskas scored on a single by catcher Tyler Truslow to add some insurance to the Foxes’ lead.

“In a game like this, every little play was big,” said Caroline coach Frank Dow. “When it was a 2–0 game, I thought we could scratch back into it. But you have to hand it to King George. They kept us off the bases. Carroll did a great job for them.”

Carroll said after the game that he relied on his fast ball and his change-up to keep the Cavaliers off balance.

“I didn’t throw my curveball,” said Carroll, who improved to 6–0 and also has a pair of saves this year. “I didn’t feel comfortable with it, so I threw fast balls and used my change-up. They were both working really well.”

“You can tell pretty early when [Carroll] has his good stuff,” Truslow said.

“Tonight was awesome,” he added. “We had been waiting for this one since the last time we played them.”

The two teams could meet for a third time in the Battlefield District tournament, which begins after the regular season concludes next week.

Caroline plays at home against Culpeper on Tuesday and Courtland on Thursday. King George visits Courtland on Tuesday and James Monroe on Friday.

“Tonight was a big confidence builder,” Reviello said. “If we can win three more games, we’re the No. 1 seed and we’ll get a regional home game.”

    R H E

    Caroline 000 000 0 0 2

    King George 200 071 10 8 0

    JOE SHIFLETT, Tyler Daig (5) and Will Shiflett. DAMION CARROLL and Tyler Truslow.

Steve Franzello: 540/374-5440

sports@freelancestar.com

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