By BRIAN HUNSICKER
MANASSAS ? Hylton has become accustomed to jumping out to early leads, putting pressure on the opposition.
Tuesday started out much the same way but the ending was different than in any of the Bulldogs’ 11 wins this season. Osbourn responded to the pressure of falling behind: A four-run third inning propelled the Eagles to a 7-3 non-district win.
Down 2-0, the Eagles (11-1) began the third with four straight singles. Ricky Pasquariello cut the Bulldogs’ lead to one with a single that scored Greg Ward. Brent Greer followed with another single to bring home courtesy runner Theo Jones, tying the score at 2-2.
Two batters later, Greg Morris doubled to score Pasquariello and Jess Stewart to give Osbourn the lead for good.
?Since spring break, except for one game, we’ve been putting the ball in play and making things happen. Before that, we weren’t that aggressive, but spring break woke us up,? said Eagles coach Keith Howell. ?The last two games, we’ve been hitting the ball on the nose.?
Howell was particularly happy with his team’s hitting with two strikes. On Tuesday, Osbourn was 5 for 8 with three RBI when Eagle hitters put the ball in play with a two-strike count.
Osbourn starter Ryan Adams was effective, working out of what could have been a disastrous second inning. With a run already in, Adams walked the bases loaded, and brought home a run when the next hitter, Brian Antolick, walked as well. But Adams got Jorge Laboy to pop out and end the threat.
In that inning, Hylton (11-3) scored twice on no hits. They managed just two hits the rest of the way against Adams and Stewart, who closed out the win in the seventh.
?Plain and simple, we got outplayed. We had three hits, they had 13,? said Bulldogs coach John Colantuoni. ?When you hit the ball … you generate runs.?
Adams wasn’t in trouble much after that. In his final four innings, Adams allowed only one runner to get into scoring position. That was Mike Crutchman in the fourth inning, who scored Hylton’s final run on a single by Antolick.
Osbourn added insurance in the fifth, scoring three times against Laboy, who relieved Hylton starter Nate Hartman. The Eagles started off the inning with two straight hits ? a single by Greer off Laboy’s foot and a double by Chris Kearney that scored Greer.
After Laboy got two strikeouts, Ken Morris and Colin Dunleavy hit back-to-back run-scoring singles. Morris’ single came on a 1-2 count, and was part of the two-strike hitting that made Howell so happy.
?All that hard work has got to pay off,? he said. ?We do situational hitting, we don’t let them have any free swings, and that has a lot to do with our discipline and us being aggressive when we’re up in the count.
?The key was batting with two strikes,? he added, ?and that was nice to see.?