Vienna: Oakton Pitcher Jones Tosses Complete Game

Vienna: Oakton Pitcher Jones Tosses Complete Game

Cougars improve to 9-­0 with win over Centreville.

Oakton senior Connor Jones pitched a complete game against Centreville on April 16, helping the Cougars win 8-­2.

Oakton senior Connor Jones pitched a complete game against Centreville on April 16, helping the Cougars win 8-­2. Photo by Craig Sterbutzel.


Oakton junior shortstop Joe Rizzo went 4­-for-­5 with two RBIs against Centreville on April 16.

Oakton pitcher Connor Jones had to wait for his turn at the varsity level.

As a junior, Jones was good enough to be a front-­line starter for the Cougars. However, the right-­hander was stuck behind a pair of senior standouts in Tommy Lopez, the Conference 5 Player of the Year, and RJ Gaines. With limited opportunities, Jones was relegated to bullpen duty and the role of No. 3 starter.

Now a senior, Jones entered the 2015 season with the opportunity to be “the man” for Oakton. With Lopez and Gaines having graduated, the Cougars were in need of a leader on the mound.

“If we didn’t have one of those guys, [Jones] would have been a starter, clearly,” Oakton head coach Justin Janis said. “We had three guys eat a lot of innings last year and he was one of them. That’s the nice part ­­­ he has experience. Coming into this year, we were hoping: ‘OK, now those two guys have graduated, you need to step up and be the bulldog, the No. 1 for us,' and so far, so good.”

JONES EARNED A WIN and pitched his first complete game of the season against Centreville on April 16, allowing five hits while striking out four and walking none during an 8-­2 Oakton victory at Centreville High School.

After Centreville’s Daniel Lachance tied the score at 2 with an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning, Jones retired the final 11 Wildcat batters.

Meanwhile, Oakton took a 4­-2 lead in the sixth inning with an RBI double by sophomore catcher Ryan Davis and an RBI single by junior shortstop Joe Rizzo.

The Cougars added four more runs in the top of the seventh.

“My change­up was definitely good,” said Jones, a third-­year member of the Oakton varsity. “I consider it my best pitch. When it’s on, it’s pretty good. I like throwing it a lot in any count.”

The victory improved Oakton’s record to 9-­0, including 3­-0 in conference play.

“It’s been exciting,” Jones said of transitioning into the role of front­-line starting pitcher. “It feels good to get some innings in, get a lot more big starts against teams like Centreville.”


Head coach Justin Janis and the Oakton baseball team improved to 9­-0 with a win over Centreville on April 16.

Despite the graduation of its top two pitchers and other impact players, the two­-time defending Conference 5 champion Cougars have opened the 2015 season on fire. Oakton has wins over perennial contenders Lake Braddock and Madison, and entered Monday ranked No. 1 in the NOVA Baseball Magazine and Washington Post polls. The Cougars outscored their first three conference opponents ­­­ Westfield, Robinson, Centreville­ 26-­5.

“I was a little unsure,” said Janis, referring to what he expected out of the Cougars early in the season. “I knew we had some good players on the team, it was just a matter of how we then went out and performed. It’s still early, but to this point the guys have played pretty well.”

Jones said Oakton can compete with any team.

“We know what we can do,” he said. “We know that we’re a good baseball team. If people think it or not, that’s their opinion, but we know we’re a good team and we know we can come out and compete with any team in the region and the state.”

While Jones has been a big part of Oakton’s success, sophomore Toma Shigaki-­Than has also been a force on the mound, giving the Cougars two quality starting pitchers.

“Our sophomore pitcher Toma, he has stepped up huge for us,” Rizzo said. “... He just deals. He’s got great stuff.”

RIZZO, a third­-year varsity player who is committed to the University of South Carolina, is the main threat in the Oakton lineup. Rizzo went 4­-for-­5 with a pair of RBIs against Centreville.

“He’s just a tireless worker,” Janis said. “He’s a baseball nut. Every single day is dedicated to making himself a better baseball player throughout the year.”

Davis had a double and two RBIs against Centreville. Senior Jagger James went 2­-for-­3.

Oakton travels to face Chantilly at 6:30 p.m. tonight.