Hayfield pitcher Justin Drechsel made the first six innings a struggle for the Yorktown baseball team, which entered the bottom of the seventh trailing 5-1. Drechsel had allowed just five hits while striking out six during the May 7 contest at Greenbrier Park, but his pitch count had crossed into triple digits.
After a leadoff walk, Hayfield head coach Jimmy Linza approached the mound to talk to his junior right-hander. Drechsel responded by retiring the next two Patriot batters and was one strike away from ending the game against Yorktown’s James Overbeek. But Overbeek kept the game alive with a run-scoring double, setting the table for slugger Shaun Wood.
The left-handed-hitting Wood had hit an opposite-field home run in the fourth inning and flew out to the warning track in left field during the fifth. With the Patriots fighting to stay alive, Wood once again showed off his prodigious power, belting Drechsel’s 142nd pitch of the evening into the parking lot beyond the right-field wall. The Patriots’ rally fell short, however, as reliever Cory Spera came on to get the final out of a 5-4 Hayfield victory.
The loss dropped third-place Yorktown’s National District record to 9-4, but Wood’s performance gave a glimpse into a potentially bright future for the 6-foot-4, 210-pound junior.
"I honestly think Shaun Wood is a Major League prospect, without a doubt," Yorktown head coach Mike Ruck said. "He has the build. I think people are going to start really taking notice. … I believe he’ll be drafted next year."
Through 18 games, Wood leads Yorktown in batting average (.509), runs scored (17), home runs (3) and RBIs (23). Ruck said Wood is a selective hitter who uses the entire field. He has an average arm and plays primarily first base for the Patriots, but working on his speed and agility could make playing a corner outfield position an option at the next level.
But one of Wood’s athletic tools stands out above the rest.
"I seriously doubt," Ruck said, "there’s anyone who has more power than him in high school baseball in Virginia."
Ruck said he allows the junior to use only a wood bat during practice to help his development. Wood put on a show during a recent session.
"With five water-logged balls," Ruck said, "… he took five consecutive out with [a wood bat] that all probably went about 400 feet."
Against Hayfield, Wood finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
"It always feels great when you hit home runs," he said. "I knew both of them were gone off the bat."
On the mound, a pleasant surprise for Yorktown was junior reliever Kevin Tomlinson. The laid-back left-hander, who had worked only 3 2/3 innings all season, pitched three scoreless to help keep the Patriots in the game. After the starter Overbeek, who entered the game with a 4-0 record and sub-2.00 ERA, allowed four runs in two innings, Tomlinson cooled the Hayfield bats by striking out the side in the third.
Tomlinson allowed two hits and one walk while striking out five during his longest outing of the season.
"Pitching longer definitely allowed me to get back into a groove," he said. "First inning, I felt like I wasn’t throwing as good as I could. Second inning I found that groove and threw strikes really well."
Tomlinson has an ERA of 3.15 and 10 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.
"He just was unbelievable," Ruck said. "He hit his spots."
Yorktown defeated Oakton 10-9 on May 8. After falling behind 7-1, the Patriots scored four runs in the sixth and five in the seventh to pull out the victory. Wood, Red Dowdell and Wade Holmes each had three hits for Yorktown.
The National District Tournament begins May 17.