Like the Bryce Harper-less Washington Nationals, the Stafford baseball team is counting on its “small-ball” game to get ahead this spring.
The Indians manufactured a run in the second inning and strong pitching and stellar defensive play were sufficient to preserve a 1–0 victory over visiting North Stafford in Friday’s Commonwealth District tournament final. The Indians improve to 2–0, the Wolverines fall to 2–1.
“Defense held up, [and] the pitching was really good,” said veteran Stafford catcher Joe Tolson, who threw out two would-be base stealers, including one at third. “[Offensively] we have to be more aggressive and work on getting deeper in the counts.”
Tolson opened the second inning with a walk and courtesy runner Logan Steigwald promptly stole second and third. Following another walk, Jimmy Baker hit a ground ball to the second baseman, who elected to take the sure out at first base rather than attempt a play at the plate against Steigwald—little realizing there would be a power shortage the rest of the way.
“We lost a little of our plate discipline up there, swinging at pitches out of the zone that helped them out,” Wolverine coach Jim Labrusciano said. “We got three games. The whole purpose of this preseason tournament [is] get more reps, get you ready for the regular season.”
Opposing coach Tommy Harrison also had mixed emotions about his team’s play thus far. “[We] have to have better situational hitting,” he said after the Indians stranded seven runners. “[We] struck out a few times when we didn’t need to, hit some lazy fly balls when all you have to do is put the ball on the ground.
“[We’re] not seeing a whole lot of live pitching early in the year, but it was nice to get two wins in two close games,” he concluded.
Harrison could not find fault in the performance of his two pitchers. Robbie Baker worked the first five innings, plus two batters. After issuing his first walk and hitting his second batter to open the sixth inning, Harrison brought in stopper Tucker Sullivan, who struck out all five batters he faced. Tolson’s rifle arm accounted for the other out.
Stafford visits Caroline on Tuesday. North Stafford plays at Culpeper on Wednesday prior to playing host to Robinson on Friday.
ETHAN KEARNS, Kalib Bailey (3) and Elmer Figuerea. ROBBIE BAKER, Tucker Sullivan (6) and Joe Tolson.