STAFFORD — A trend is starting to develop at Colonial Forge High School.
The Eagles’ baseball team, in only their third year of existence, will be making their second appearance in the Commonwealth District championship game.
Also, Colonial Forge seniors Chuck Brown and Derek Wiser made sure they wouldn’t be playing their final game in the green-and-gray sleeveless uniforms.
The gritty pair pounded out four hits and drove in four runs between them as Colonial Forge breezed past visiting Stafford, 7-2, in the district semifinals on Thursday. In their first two varsity seasons, the Eagles (12-7) were 5-15 and 14-9.
The two teams had split their regular season meetings each time. Brown, a three-sport standout who is headed to Bridgewater College next year to play two sports, got the ball rolling in the bottom of the first. After sophomore Jack Ferrick reached base on a hit batsman, Brown clobbered the first pitch from Stafford pitcher Brad Hayes over the left-center field fence for a 2-0 lead.
“I was just seeing the ball well all night, from batting practice to game time,” Brown said. “I was just glad we could get off to a quick start, because we are a very good ballclub when we come out like that.”
Jake Brown followed with a single up the middle. Then designated hitter Glenn Dye, worked the count full, and earned a walk off Hayes to put runners at first and second with one out.
With Wiser at the plate, Jake Brown and Dye advanced to second and third on a double steal and then the Colonial Forge catcher, who will play next year at Shenandoah University, rapped the ball to the base of the fence in right field for a two-run double. The hit gave the Eagles a 4-0 lead.
Sean Sutphin homered for the Indians in the top half of the second inning to reduce the deficit to 4-1. Then Chuck Brown launched a towering homer to left in the bottom of the third to give the Eagles a 5-1 lead after three innings.
All along, Colonial Forge starter Eddie Rubbo was cruising on the mound, recording six strikeouts in the game’s first three innings. The bad news was the Indians batters were working the count and Rubbo’s pitch-count was climbing rapidly.
Rubbo helped his own cause with an RBI double in the fourth and that, combined with Ferrick’s RBI single, gave the Eagles a 7-1 lead, which the Eagles carried into the final inning. Josh Hankins, gave up a pair of hits, but closed the game in one inning of relief for the Eagles.
Rubbo, a sophomore, came out after six innings when his pitch-count reached 90. He improved to 6-1 this year and 12-1 for his career.
Also, he was winning pitcher in last year’s semifinal game as a freshman.
“He was going long in the count to a lot of hitters,” said Colonial Forge coach Shawn Szakelyhidi. “So were thinking about getting him out of there. Once his he reached 90 pitches, we felt it was time.”
Szakelyhidi added it helps when you team appears in control of the game to make that decision.
“It is always good to get off to a quick start,” Szakelyhidi said. “Brad Hayes is a real good pitcher but this is the third time our guys have faced him and they made the adjustments at the plate. As for our hitting, it is a confidence thing, and a couple of our guys are really confident right now when they step to the plate.”
The Indians (9-10) mounted a minor two-out rally that allowed Dan Melvin, who had three hits, to walk and load the bases for Hayes. Hayes, who pounded out two homers and drove in six runs on Tuesday against Culpeper, hit a two-out RBI single to cut the deficit to 7-2.
But Hankins got Matt Conley to ground out to J.J. Hackman at second, who threw over to Chuck Brown at first for the final out. The Eagles not only secured a spot in the championship game at Albemarle, a 3-0 winner over Brooke Point, but also gained a Northwest Region berth in the process.
The winner of the championship game will host a first-round region game on Monday.