The Mustang offense broke through in a big way last Wednesday, snapping out of a two-game shutout streak and exploding for an unimaginable 30 runs in their road win over Manassas Park.
“After being shut out in consecutive games, I wasn’t sure a single run was possible,” Mason Head Coach Adam Amerine said.
After over-anxious approaches typified the two shutouts against Madison County and Strasburg, the Mason batters exercised patience at the plate, forcing the Manassas pitchers to throw them strikes — strikes that were few and far between. After the first eight Mason hitters of the ballgame each recorded hits, a spate of walks combined with some opportunistic offense allowed the Mustangs to hang 10 runs on the board before the Cougars had even recorded a single out. In total, Mason scored 22 runs in the first two innings. The Mustangs compiled 25 runs total in their first seven games of the Bull District Schedule, which included a 14-5 drubbing of Clarke County on April 25.
“Being patient and not expanding the zone has certainly helped with getting runners on and we have also taken advantage of some opponent mistakes defensively and mixed in some hits,” Amerine said.
As a team, Mason finished with 20 hits and collected 15 walks against Manassas in the 30-8 win.
The Mustang bats stayed hot on Tuesday evening at home against Clarke County, however Mason could not find a way to keep the Eagles off the board and ultimately succumbed by a 14-12 final.
Clarke sprinted out to a 9-2 lead, but Mason rallied on the strength of a five-run bottom half of the fourth inning to put themselves back in contention.
Sophomore Michael Wolf plated senior Peter Campanelli to start the scoring, fighting off a two-strike pitch for a single. Senior catcher Lonnie Millard similarly refused to yield with two strikes and the bases loaded, working the count full before ultimately being hit on the arm to push in the second run of the inning. Senior Alex Prewitt drove in another run on a fielder’s choice and then scored himself when junior Andrew Lieber drove in two runs with an opposite field line-drive over the second baseman’s head.
Errors and timely Eagle hits kept the Mustangs from ever taking the lead. Clarke scored a pair in the top of the sixth and then capped their scoring with a three-run home run over the left field wall off reliever Prewitt.
“Scoring 12 and losing hurts, especially when our strength is supposed to be pitching and defense,” Amerine said. “We are not ‘Murderers Row,’ so it is really disappointing to not get the victory when we do our job offensively. But give credit to Clarke, they kept grinding and getting people on base to keep the pressure on us.”
The loss slides Mason’s record to 7-11-1 overall and 4-5 in the Bull Run District, eliminating them from contention for the first-round bye given to the district’s top two regular season teams. Madison County and Strasburg will duke it out for the regular season title, with the Mountaineers a game ahead of the Rams at 7-1.
Mason concluded its regular season schedule with a road game at Rappahannock on Wednesday. Results were not available at press time.
The Mustangs begin postseason play on Monday, May 19 with the site and opponent to be determined.