Special to the Potomac News & Manassas Journal Messenger
WOODBRIDGE — Hylton pitcher Nate Hartman may have lost a game Saturday but still emerged a winner.
Hylton (6-1) dropped a 4-1 decision to Riverdale Baptist (Md.) in the championship game of the Riverdale April Classic for their first loss of the year. The four-team tournament was moved to Prince William County because of the school system’s travel restrictions during the war with Iraq.
Hartman drew positive comments from coaches on both sides of the field. Hylton had beaten Gar-Field and Woodbridge in Cardinal District games last week and had another against Forest Park on Tuesday. Therefore, Bulldogs’ coach John Colantuoni gave the ball to the untested Hartman, making just his second varsity start.
He gave up all four runs on seven hits but nonetheless did a good job keeping his team in the game against the heavy-hitting Crusaders from Upper Marlboro, ranked 28th in the country by Collegiate Baseball magazine.
“If he’s your No. 3 pitcher, I’d hate to see your one and two,” Riverdale coach Terry Terrill told the Hylton coaches after the game.
Colantuoni had more good news for Hartman after the game.
“I thought Nate through a heck of game,” said Colantuoni. “They didn’t have an easy out in their lineup. Nate had something on his fastball and was getting his breaking pitch down. I told him after the game that he had earned a spot in our rotation.”
Hartman threw two pitches he wished he could have taken back. Both times, he didn’t spot an 0-2 pitch well and paid the price.
In the first inning, Crusader junior Mitch Saum, a Division I prospect, parked an 0-2 pitch over the left field wall for the first run of the game.
“The pitch was up above his numbers,” said Hartman, “but I didn’t get it up enough.”
Saum, who leads 14-1 Riverdale Baptist with six homers this season, said he was looking for the pitch in that location.
“He (Hartman) set up the guy before me with the same pitch so I was sitting on that pitch,” said Saum.
Riverdale coach Terrill said Saum’s blast was the key moment in the game.
“You know when you play Hylton, it’s going to be a good game,” said Terrill. “We were down in the first inning with two outs and an 0-2 count and he (Saum) crushes one. It gave us momentum and made the rest of the team feel they could hit the ball to.”
Riverdale padded their lead with three more runs in the third inning. Micah Terrill’s double, again on an 0-2 pitch, over Hylton center fielder Ryan Wood was the big blast, driving in two runs. Terrill later scored on a single by Saum.
Hylton got their run in the fourth inning. With one out, Jorge Laboy and John Bigley (2-for-3) singled. LaBoy then scored on a misplayed double-play grounder hit by Brian Ware Colantuoni. Otherwise, the Bulldogs were limited to just three other hits by Crusader pitcher Mike Clark. Hylton had reached the tournament finals with a 13-1 win over Notre Dame Academy of Middleburg while Riverdale Baptist had beaten Brooke Point 13-11.