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Battlefield Baseball: Cyclones getting used to trips to district title games

EASTERN VIEW DEFEATS

SPOTSYLVANIA, WILL FACE FOXES

By STEVE FRANZELLO

For the Eastern View baseball team, the finals of the Battlefield District tournament have become an annual event.

The Cyclones have fielded teams for just four years in their brief history, but during that time they have been a force in the district tournament, advancing to the championship game three straight years.

Make that four trips in four years, now.

On Tuesday night, they punched their ticket to the big game once again with a 4–1 victory over top-seeded Spotsylvania at King George High School. The win also guaranteed them another berth in the Region I playoffs, which begin on Monday.

“Everybody knows [about the streak],” said winning pitcher Tanner May, who shut down the Knights on just four hits. “But we don’t really talk about it. It might be a jinx if we did.”

On Thursday, fourth-seeded Eastern View (12–9) will meet King George for the tournament title and a right to host a home game in the regional tournament. The Foxes downed Caroline, 3–2, in Tuesday’s other semifinal game.

Spotsylvania (14–7), which finished the regular season in a three-way tie for first place with the Foxes and Cavaliers, will play Caroline for the district’s third and final Region I berth in the consolation game.

“[May] came to play,” said Eastern View coach Daniel Nobbs. “It all clicked. We got the runs for him and then he came back and threw strikes. He made it happen.”

May was in control for most of the game, striking out four and walking only one. The Knights’ lone run came in the fourth, when courtesy runner Nick Perry scored on a sacrifice fly by Jacob King.

“We didn’t get any momentum at the plate, and when we had it, we didn’t get the big hits,” said Spotsylvania coach Ryan Davenport. “We didn’t play badly, but you can’t leave runners at second and third base.”

The Knights and Cyclones both stranded six runners in the contest, but Spotsylvania’s ineffectiveness proved to be more costly.

Meanwhile, the Cyclones gave May all the run support he needed in the top of the third, when they plated four runs on four hits. Catcher Ben Pittman drove in two of the runs with a single to right.

“We’ve come a long way this year,” Pittman said. “We had to replace our whole lineup from last year and there were a lot of spots up for grabs. But people have solidified those spots and it’s worked out.”

After losing to Spotsylvania twice during the regular season, things finally worked out against the Knights, thanks to May’s strong showing on the mound and some timely hitting.

Justin Gardiner started the offensive surge in the third with a line drive to right. Jordan Queen followed with a single to center to set the table for a big inning.

After A.J. Stead reached on a fielder’s choice, Gardiner came home with the Cyclones’ first run on a grounder to third by Nate Yates.

Pittman then slapped a single by first to score both Stead and Yates.

Pittman then scored himself when right-fielder Jordan Orndorff, who was the only player in the game with more than one hit, singled up the middle to make it 4–0.

May (6–4) and the Cyclones defense made the lead stand up for the next four innings. May gave up just one hit during that stretch and retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh to seal the win.

“Pitching with run support always makes you more confident,” May said. “When the offense is clicking, you just go out there and do your job.”

Spotsylvania starting pitcher Josh Ewing also went the distance, allowing seven hits and striking out three. Except for the offensive outburst in the third, Ewing (5–3) was able to keep Eastern View’s bats in check for most of the night.

“He usually shuts the other team down and we give usually give him support,” Davenport said. “But today was just one of those days, and you have to give Eastern View credit.”

No matter what happens in Thursday’s title game, Nobbs is proud of what his team has accomplished this season just to make it to the Region I quarterfinals.

“We had to replace everybody from last year’s team, which is why I think this group is kind of special,” Nobbs said. “The younger guys and the older guys all clicked at the right time.”

    R H E

    Eastern View 0040 000 4 7 1

    Spotsylvania 0001 000 1 4 2

    TANNER MAY and Ben Pittman. JOSH EWING and Tommy Houck.

Steve Franzello: 540/374-5440

sports@freelancestar.com

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