MANASSAS — Osbourn coach Keith Howell believes his team, both slowly and surely, is beginning to believe in itself.
The Eagles ended a tough week unscathed, opening their Cedar Run District schedule with an 8-6 win over Poto-mac. Osbourn, still unbeaten at 8-0, also recorded wins against two of the county’s other top teams — Gar-Field a week ago and Hylton on Tuesday.
“We’ve played with the best of them,” Howell said. “It’s all about attitude.”
On Friday night, the Eagles accomplished their task with top pitcher Jess Stewart not at the top of his game. Stewart pitched into the fifth inning, but gave up six runs — four earned — on four hits to the Panthers (6-2 overall, 0-1 Cedar Run).
What Stewart missed on the mound he made up for at the plate. Stewart finished 4 for 4 with four doubles and two RBI. Outfielder Brian Dunleavy also played a crucial role in the Eagle offense, smacking a solo home run and a run-scoring single in the fourth.
The Eagles, down by a run, benefited in more than one way from Dunleavy’s single. The hit started a rally that saw Osbourn surge to a 7-3 lead, one they never surrendered. Before Dunleavy stepped to the plate, the game was already tied thanks to a Mike Stover double that scored Mike Merryman.
By the time Dunleavy arrived at the plate, there were two outs with runners on first and second. Facing a 1-2 count, Howell sent both runners. Dunleavy, protecting the plate, knocked a bloop single to left that brought home Stover. Stewart followed with his third double that scored Dunleavy and Chris Kearney. Ricky Pasquariello, running for Stewart, later scored on a Potomac fielding error.
When Stewart struggled in the top of the fifth, he was lifted in favor of Brandon Armentrout. Armentrout came in with the bases loaded and one out. Tony Blackwell greeted him with an infield hit to score Brian Greaux. Mike Tiller and Mark Salyers also scored on an Eagle throwing error. Although the runs were charged to Stewart, Armentrout got out of the inning without further damage and limited Potomac to one hit after that.
“He’s been tough all year, in tight spots as a reliever,” Howell said. “He was hurrying early, rushing his delivery, but once he settled down he got his curveball over for strikes. That’s big, that’s his out pitch.”
Armentrout and Stewart, who got out of a jam in the second, were able to work out of trouble. The Panthers, meanwhile, had a more difficult time in similar circumstances.
“I thought we played hard and they played hard, but they competed a little harder,” said Panthers’ coach Mike Covington of Osbourn. “We didn’t quit. I told [the team] I was proud we didn’t quit, but I was disappointed we didn’t compete to the level we can compete at.”
OSBOURN 8, POTOMAC 6
Potomac 003 030 0 — 6 6 2
Osbourn 011 501 X — 8 10 2
Tiller, Mahan (4) and Salyers; Stewart, Armentrout (5) and Williams. W — Stewart. L — Tiller. S — Armentrout. HR — Osbourn, Dunleavy (3rd, none on).