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Can Pitching Come Through for Hornets in Playoffs?

Herndon Baseball coach Al McCullock hopes so;

The Herndon High baseball team concluded the regular season with a high scoring, 17-13 win over host Centreville on May 5.

With the Concorde District victory, Herndon concluded the regular season with a 7-10 overall record and a 3-9 mark in the district.

Herndon was tabbed to be the No. 5 seed at this week’s district tournament. The Hornets were scheduled to play a quarterfinals round game at No. 4 Robinson on Wednesday. The winner of that playoff game will advance to the district semifinals and automatically earn a berth at next week’s 16-team Northern Region tournament.

Herndon put together 17 hits in the win over Centreville. Herndon senior Ian McNichol led the way with two doubles and a single.

In the wild, back-and-forth game, the Hornets jumped out to a 7-1 lead before the Wildcats stormed back to take a 10-7 lead. Herndon answered with six runs to go ahead 13-10 and never lost the lead thereafter.

"It was just a good night offensively," said Herndon coach Al McCullock. "We hit the ball and scored a lot of runs."

Herndon’s two other district wins this season came in home triumphs over Fairfax, 12-6, on April 18, and Robinson, 6-5, on April 25. The Hornets have lost one-run district games at Chantilly, 4-3, on April 24, and Oakton, 5-4, on April 29.

So, after starting the district schedule 0-6, with several of the losses being lopsided, Herndon has played much better over the second half of the season.

"We’re pitching a lot better," said McCullock, of the area of the team that has been considered the Hornets’ weakness. "That’s the key. We were always scoring a lot of runs. But we’d get behind early and couldn’t catch up."

One example of that occurred on April 9 when Herndon could not completely overcome a 9-0 deficit early on at Robinson, and lost 12-9.

<b>MCCULLOCK’S</b> top three pitchers have been starters Davis Hall, a senior, and Nick Impellizzeri, a sophomore. Junior Jake Stewart has been the team’s top reliever.

The pitching, led by those three, will have to come up big at districts in order for Herndon to garner a few upset wins.

"We’re going to have to pitch good [at districts]," said the coach. "[We can win] if we can score some runs and pitch good."

Herndon has proven it can play Robinson tough with its split over two games against the Rams in the regular season. A win over Robinson on Wednesday in the playoffs will boost the Hornets into regionals next week.

"I think they’re excited," said McCullock, of the start of the postseason. "They think they can win. We’re excited to not be playing in the [district] play-in game. They want to win [over Robinson] and move on."

Herndon’s Chris Medina, a junior outfielder, was recently named to the All-Concorde District First Team. Meanwhile, two Hornets were named to the Second Team. Those players were junior catcher/outfielder Zach Leach and senior outfielder/pitcher Allan Brownell.