The authority for sports coverage in the Fredericksburg region.
Commonwealth Baseball: Deep Eagles get district crown No. 4
BY STEVE FRANZELLO
It had been five years since Colonial Forge hoisted the Commonwealth District baseball tournament championship trophy.
On Friday night, the top-seeded Eagles got back in the act after outlasting sixth-seeded Stafford,
3–1, in a strong performance by both teams. It is the school’s fourth tournament title.
“This is a very loose group,” Eagles coach Shawn Szakelyhidi said. “They don’t get nervous and they have a great time. I’m really proud of them.”
After crafty reliever Colton Steber struck out the Indians’ Shane Haley to close out the victory, Colonial Forge’s players charged to the mound and piled on top of each other.
“This feels really great,” said Eagles first baseman Scott Gates, one of eight seniors on the squad. “It’s good to be undisputed champs.”
The tournament title comes on the heels of the Eagles’ regular season championship and gives them a boost of confidence heading into the upcoming Northwest Region playoffs.
Colonial Forge (18–5) gets a first-round bye and will play a home game a week from Monday against a team to be determined.
Stafford (7–14), which pounded No. 2 seed Albemarle, 16–6, on Thursday, will host a regional first-round game next Thursday.
“We knew we had the capability to do this at the beginning of the season,” said Eagles designated hitter Chase Boster. “Pitching depth is what takes you through these tournaments. That’s what we have and that’s what Stafford has.”
Pitching was a key ingredient in Friday’s success, but solid defense and timely hitting also helped fuel Colonial Forge’s victory.
Boster and Carter Siweck were big keys on the mound in the tournament’s first two rounds. Against Stafford, it was more of a committee approach.
Corey Schaefer made his first start of the year and blanked the Indians for four innings. Sophomore John Gardner pitched a strong fifth, and then Steber preserved the win with four strikeouts in the last two frames.
The Eagles’ offense struck early and bunched all three runs in two innings. After that, the pitching and defense took over, although Stafford made things interesting late in the game.
In the bottom of the second, Boster walked and Anthony Malocu singled up the middle. Gates then followed with a drive to the gap in left center to score both runners.
In the third, the Eagles added two more runs on RBI hits by Boster and Cole Migliorini. Migliorini drove in Cameron Parks, who had led off the inning with a single and then advanced to second on a bunt by Lucas Behning.
After David Edwards flied out to center, Boster brought home courtesy runner Matt Jackson with a hard-hit grounder past short.
“You always want to see a little more offense, and tonight I thought we struck the ball well,” Szakelyhidi said.
Despite the 3–0 deficit, Stafford showed its mettle. The Indians got runners in scoring position in the fifth and sixth, but were able to capitalize just once.
In the fifth, designated hitter Niko Cribbs singled and made it to third after a drive to right by Haley, but was tagged out at the plate on a steal attempt.
Things looked bright again for the Indians when back-to-back doubles by Trejon Smith and Cody Beacon produced their only run in the sixth. But Steber ended the threat with a pair of crucial strikeouts.
“I pretty much bore down and composed myself,” said Steber. “I just did what I do.”
Despite the loss, Stafford coach Tommy Harrison was pleased with the Indians’ performance.
“We got down early and didn’t swing the bats really well” Harrison said. “But I’m happy with the way we kept battling. There’s a lot of teams that are done right now, but we still have a game on Thursday.”
R H E
Stafford 0000 010 1 6 1
Colonial Forge 0120 000 3 6 1
ADAM SHARROW, Skip Saylers (4) and Matt Yelverton. COREY SCHAEFER, John Gardner (5), Colton Steber (6) and Drew Mikula.
Steve Franzello: 540/374-5440