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Hornets Right in the Hunt for Regular Season Baseball Title

Herndon, despite injury loss of pitcher Hvozdovic, is finding ways to win.

There are hopes that recently injured Herndon High baseball player Paul Hvozdovic will return to the Hornets’ line-up in time for the upcoming Concorde District playoffs in a couple of weeks. But there is no guarantee of that happening.

For Herndon coach Greg Miller and his team members, the return of the senior pitcher would be a pleasant surprise. But that decision regarding Hvozdovic’s possible return has not been made yet.

“We’re going to err on the side of being cautious,” said Miller. “If the doctors, Paul’s parents and Paul himself want to give it a shot, I’ll go with that. Paul thinks he might be able to come back in time for the [district] tournament. But our main concern is his health.”

Hvozdovic was injured on April 14 during his team’s 4-3 extra innings home loss to Concorde District opponent Oakton when, after laying down a bunt and trying to beat it out for a single, he collided with an Oakton player at first base.

Hvozdovic, who according to Miller took a knee to his side on the collision, suffered a collapsed lung and was sent to Reston Hospital, where he underwent surgery. He spent 10 days in the hospital before coming home more than a week ago. He is now on the mend.

Miller, who resides right near the hospital, had opportunities to visit and encourage his player.

The coach, earlier this week, said Hvozdovic wants to regain his health and get back onto the field with his teammates.

“It’s killing him not to be out there playing,” said Miller. “He kind of has that to motivate him a little bit. We’re just thankful he’s OK.”

At the time of the injury, Hvozdovic was the Hornets’ No. 1 starting pitcher. Over 22 innings of work prior to the injury, the southpaw had struck out 30 batters, walked one and won a couple games. He was a big reason the Hornets, going into the Oakton game, had built a 6-1 record in coach Miller’s first year at the helm of the program.

“Paul’s our most competitive kid, a bulldog out there,” said Miller. “[Not having that] is what has hurt us the most.”

Since Hvozdovic ‘s injury, Herndon’s pitchers have rallied in outstanding fashion, with seniors Nick Impellizzeri, Daniel Shill and Alex Clark all making solid mound contributions. The Hornets, in what has been an amazing breakthrough season, were 10-3 overall going into this week’s play and a solid 4-2 in the Concorde District standings, good enough for a three-way tie for first place along with Westfield and Centreville.

The Hornets were scheduled to play games against both fellow front runners this week – at Centreville on Tuesday, May 4, and home with Westfield this Friday night, May 7 at 6:30.

<b>IN GAMES LAST WEEK</b>, Herndon won a close 3-2 home encounter over Chantilly on April 27 before winning a 10-8 slugfest at Oakton last Friday night.

Clark, in his first pitching start of the season, gave the Hornets six solid innings of work against Chantilly, allowing two runs (none earned). He had only pitched once before this season – in a relief outing versus South Lakes on April 12. Clark could be a key compliment to Impellizzeri and Shill in the starting rotation the remainder of the way.

The win over Chantilly was the first for the Hornets over the Chargers since 2006.

In the win over Oakton, Herndon trailed 6-2 after three innings before rallying to win.

Two weeks ago, Herndon and host Robinson played in a wild, extra innings affair won by the Hornets, 11-10, on April 23. The score was tied at 5-5 after seven innings. Herndon scored a run in the eighth, but the Rams tied it with a run in their half of the inning.

The Hornets appeared to be in the driver’s seat after scoring four more in the ninth, but Robinson tallied four of its own to move the game into the 10th inning. There, Shill singled home Matt Smith to put Herndon ahead for good, 11-10. Shill, on the mound in the bottom half of the inning, held the Rams in check and Herndon had won.