Burke Members of the South County baseball team entered Monday’s May 20 Patriot District championship game knowing the odds were stacked against them.
The Stallions were facing defending state champion Lake Braddock on its home field. The Bruins entered the district tournament as the No. 1 seed, having posted a 13-1 regular-season district record. South County was the No. 3 seed after finishing 8-6. The two teams met twice during the regular season, with Lake Braddock winning both by a combined score of 10-3.
With long odds in mind, South County first baseman Patrick Campo said the Stallions entered Monday’s game relaxed. If Campo’s words are true, the Stallions must have felt like particularly cool customers after the top of the first inning.
South County jumped on Lake Braddock for four runs in the first, helping the Stallions capture their second district championship in three seasons with a 14-3 victory in Burke. South County won the district in 2011 when the Stallions finished state runner-up.
“It’s amazing, especially to win on their field after the great season they had last year,” Campo said. “It’s awesome because everyone says they’re the team to beat. We were definitely the underdogs today. … We were just relaxed coming in. We knew that we weren’t supposed to win, so we just came out relaxed and hit the ball.”
SOUTH COUNTY TOTALED 14 HITS. Campo went 3 for 5 with four RBIs, and shortstop Michael Smith and third baseman David Gemma each went 3 for 4 with a double and two RBIs.
While the Stallion bats were hot, South County starting pitcher Scott Dunn limited the Lake Braddock lineup, keeping Monday’s slugfest one-sided. The junior right-hander earned the victory, allowing three earned runs and four hits in five-and-two-thirds innings, while walking three and striking out two. Dunn threw 55 of 92 pitches for strikes and tossed a first-pitch strike to 13 of 25 batters faced.
“Scotty’s a contact pitcher; he pitches to contact,” head coach Robbie Smith said. “We preach to our pitchers to pound the [strike] zone, we’re going to play good defense and we’ve pretty much done that all year long. You put Scott on the mound, you know he’s going to throw strikes …”
While Dunn fared well, Lake Braddock pitchers struggled. Head coach Jody Rutherford pulled starter Matt Supko after the sophomore allowed four runs in a third of an inning. Nick McIntyre, Colby Wallmow and Joe Darcy also pitched, with only Wallmow finding sustained success. Supko returned to the mound during the seventh inning.
“We just really didn’t give ourselves a shot,” Rutherford said. “We’ve played well defensively and on the mound for quite a few games now and we just didn’t give our offense a chance to get settled in. And then once we got somebody in to get some consecutive outs to get us back in the dugout to swing the bat, we had runners at first and second in the fourth and fifth inning and they didn’t move.”
Campo delivered the first blow for South County, plating a run with a one-out single in the first. Two batters later, left fielder Dalton Williams drew a bases-loaded walk and Gemma followed with a tworun double.
In the second inning, Campo hit a two-run single through a drawnin infield, giving the Stallions a 7-0 lead. Senior catcher Keaton Tettelbach extended the lead to 8-0 with an RBI single in the third.
Wallmow, a junior left-hander, took the mound for Lake Braddock in the fourth and finally slowed the Stallion offense. South County did not have a runner reach base in the fourth, fifth or sixth innings. Meanwhile, Lake Braddock had its first two batters reach base in the fourth and fifth innings, but came away empty.
Center fielder Alex Gransback put the Bruins on the board when he launched a solo home run to left field leading off the bottom of the sixth. Lake Braddock added two more when Supko’s two-out double to left plated a pair, cutting the South County lead to 8-3.
“It’s amazing, especially to win on their field after the great season they had last year. It’s awesome because everyone says they’re the team to beat. We were definitely the underdogs today. … We were just relaxed coming in. We knew that we weren’t supposed to win, so we just came out relaxed and hit the ball.”
--- South County junior Patrick Campo
ANY MOMENTUM gained by the Bruins was squashed the following inning by the Stallions. South County sent 12 batters to the plate in the seventh, scoring six runs on six hits. Center fielder Mitchell Hayes had a two-run single, Michael Smith hit a two-run double and Campo added a run-scoring single.
Robbie Smith, who is in his first season as South County head coach after seven seasons as an assistant with the program, said the team is a more confident group than when it faced Lake Braddock during the regular season.
“I don’t think we had confidence early on,” he said. “We were still trying to find a way, figure out who we were and believe in each other. That’s the difference.”
South County will host Robinson, the Concorde District’s No. 4 seed, on Friday in the first round of the Northern Region tournament.
“It feels great,” Dunn said about winning the district title. “It’s just one of the goals along the way. [We are] still working for the state championship, though.”
Lake Braddock will host Chantilly. The Bruins lost to the Chargers 8-7 on March 16.
“I don’t think you really need to say much, just look at the score,” Gransback said. “It’s kind of like a wake-up call, I guess.”