West Potomac High's baseball team started play at the McLean/Woodson Spring Break Tournament in winning fashion this past Monday, April 18 with a convincing 11-1 win over Fairfax High. The non-district game between the two Northern Region teams took place at McLean High School, one of the two host sites (the other being W.T. Woodson) of the tournament.
The Wolverines were scheduled to continue spring break tournament play later in the week with games versus South Lakes on Wednesday and Washington-Lee on Thursday, both 10 a.m. contests set to take place at Woodson.
West Potomac, over the first half of the season, was 5-5 following the win over Fairfax. The Wolverines have struggled so far this season to win within the tough Patriot District, which includes teams such as defending state AAA champion West Springfield as well as perennial Northern Region power Lake Braddock. West Potomac, at this point, is only 1-5 in district games this spring, while it carries a 4-1 record against opponents outside the district.
"We still haven't played [district opponents] West Springfield and T.C. Williams because of rainouts," said West Potomac Manager Jim Sullivan, who said he believes his team is capable of playing much better against district foes over the district schedule following spring break.
The Wolverines' lone district win came on April 11 at Lee High, a resounding 15-7 win over the Lancers that snapped a four-game losing streak after West Potomac had begun the season 3-0.
It marked the second time West Potomac had beaten Lee this spring. The first time came in an early season Ice Breaker Tournament home game on March 19, a 16-1 win that did not count towards district play. That win over the Lancers in the first meeting between the two teams made West Potomac 3-0 at the time. Earlier that same day, the Wolverines had beaten non-district opponent Edison High, 15-6, in its first game of the Ice Breaker tourney.
West Potomac, four days earlier, had won its season opener at cross-town rival Mount Vernon High, 15-6, on March 15.
West Potomac, after its nice 3-0 start to the season, hit a rough patch, losing four straight district games — at home March 28 versus South County, 15-4; at Annandale, 10-0, the following day; at home versus Lake Braddock, 8-1, on April 4; and a 7-0 home loss to Woodson on April 6.
The most recent win over the Lancers on April 11 got West Potomac back into the victory column before the team, in its final game before the spring break, lost a well-played 3-2 decision at district foe South County, its second meeting against the Stallions, last Friday night, April 15.
MONDAY'S SPRING BREAK tournament win over Fairfax evened the Wolverines' record to .500 on the season. In the contest, West Potomac received a stellar outing from starting pitcher Jayme Murray, a sophomore left-hander, who went the distance (6 innings) in a game-shortened due to the 10-run mercy rule. Murray, over his six innings and 80 pitches of work, allowed just one run and five hits, while striking out seven and walking one. It was his second win of the season.
West Potomac's offense broke through for 10 hits versus Fairfax. The Wolverines took control of the game early with nine first inning runs. At one point during the signature inning, West Potomac hit seven consecutive singles.
"They were hitting the ball hard — no real bloop hits," said Sullivan, of his team. "There were some hard groundballs through the infield."
Sean Trenchard, a junior shortstop/pitcher who hits in the heart of the West Potomac batting order, had three hits in the win, including a pair of doubles. Josh Belanger, a junior outfielder/shortstop who also has a couple of wins on the mound this season, added two base hits as well.
West Potomac's top hitters this season have been Trenchard, who is batting over .500 with a couple of home runs, and Murray, hitting at a .500 clip with three long balls.
In West Potomac's one-run loss to South County last Friday, junior pitcher Dan Jarrell gave the Wolverines an excellent starting pitching outing over six innings of work. West Potomac held a 2-1 lead before the Stallions rallied for a couple of runs in the bottom of the sixth.
"It was a very encouraging game when you can hold South County to three runs and four hits," said Sullivan, of the loss to a Stallions' team that was selected in a recent weekly poll by coaches as the top team in the region.
Sullivan said his team has played excellent defense this season. The key to West Potomac's success as the season moves forward, he believes, will be its pitching. The Wolverines have some good pitchers in Murray, Belanger, Trenchard, and junior Nick Cordone, who also plays third base.
NOTES: The McLean/Woodson Spring Break Tournament was scheduled to begin last Saturday, but rain wiped out the slate of games. West Potomac did get one inning of play in versus Washington-Lee before the contest was postponed and re-scheduled for Thursday of this week.
The following is the Baseball Top 10 Northern Region Coach's Poll for the week of April 11. The top 10 is as follows: 1. South County; 2. Westfield; 3. Lake Braddock; 4. WT Woodson; 5. Stone Bridge; 6. Madison; 7. Oakton; 8. West Springfield; 9. McLean; 10. Marshall and Hayfield (tied). Other teams receiving votes: Chantilly and Yorktown.