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Wolverines Hit Their Stride

West Potomac baseball team beats Hayfield despite slow start at the plate.

Perhaps the best sign for the West Potomac baseball team’s fortunes this season is that five games into the 2009 campaign, players and coaches alike already have a handle on what their limitations are.

Heading into Tuesday’s game against Hayfield, West Potomac had scored only one run in its previous three games — all losses — and had just six all season.

“Unless some miracle occurs and we somehow find a hitting potion, we’re gonna have to rely on our pitching and defense because we haven’t done much hitting,” said coach Jim Sullivan after his team scrapped its way to a 4-1 victory over Hayfield.

Leading the way against the Hawks was West Potomac’s ace pitcher Danny Peterson, who tossed a complete game and gave up just six hits, while not allowing an earned run. At the plate, the senior also had two of West Potomac’s hits, an RBI and a run.

The Wolverines got their first two runs of the game in the bottom of the second inning when senior Grady O’Hagen scored on Peterson’s RBI single. Then center fielder Andy Lutz scored on a Hayfield error.

In the fourth inning, West Potomac (2-3) padded its lead when junior Mitchell Piontek scored on a double steal from third after senior Sam Montieth successfully stole second. In the fifth, the Wolverines scored their fourth and final run of the night when third baseman Art Genuario got on base after the Hayfield center fielder misplayed a routine fly ball. After advancing to third, Genuario then scored when the Hawks’ pitcher overthrew the first baseman on a botched pickoff move.

Essentially, Hayfield only gave up one unearned run. But West Potomac will take the scoring any way it can get it, especially after going scoreless over the course of 13 days following a five-run outburst in its season opener.

“We just have to try and make more contact,” said O’Hagen, who made a nice stab on a line drive at first base with the tying run at the plate to seal the victory in the seventh inning. “Guys are striking out too much. When we hit the ball and hit it hard at somebody, they’re bound to make a mistake. Tonight, that’s what happened, they made some mistakes.”

“This win actually really helped our spirits,” said shortstop Tyler Lord. “We were kind of down.”

The victory over Hayfield provided a template for how West Potomac will have to eke out wins this season. Sullivan is counting on his three pitchers — Peterson, O’Hagen, and Genuario — to carry the load while the rest of the Wolverines get their bearings at the plate and hopefully heat up once the weather gets nicer.

After three straight seasons of fifth-place finishes in the Patriot District, Sullivan is realistic with his goals for this team. He knows the top of the division will continue to consist of West Springfield, Lake Braddock, and South County. If the bats allow it, though, the coach thinks his Wolverines can more than easily finish fourth.

“We’re trying to move up and play with the big boys,” said Sullivan. “We just have to learn how to hit the ball.”