Paul Weber’s bat and Max Kaplow’s arm propelled George Mason High’s baseball team to a 3-1 victory over Manassas Park on Monday in the Bull Run District opener for both teams.
The Mustangs’ lead off batter, Weber opened the game with a slicing smash into the left field corner that put him on second. He advanced to third when teammate Stephen Lubnow singled and then scored when Park pitcher Donovan Johnson balked. In the fifth inning, Weber blasted a Johnson pitch over the right fielder’s head for a triple, then scored when Mason’s Jack Trainor got an RBI groundout to the right side.
Weber’s two scores topped the one run managed by Park, which could not get anything serious going against Mustang starter Kaplow and Mason’s defense. The junior ace allowed only one hit, walked two and struck out seven in a 78-pitch, complete-game win.
Kaplow gave a modest assessment of his performance. “I didn’t have command of my secondary pitches, so I had to rely on locating my fastballs and using the defense,” he said. Weber was more generous. “Max pitches a great game and made things easy for us on defense.”
It’s true that Kaplow was not throwing lights-out; the Cougars put the ball in play 16 times. But as Weber observed, nearly all those were fieldable balls, and Mason’s defense was up to the task: First baseman Lucas Cherry had two unassisted putouts, he combined with shortstop Tyler Duncan on a double play, and he snagged most everything fielded and thrown his way by Duncan, second baseman Chris Horneman and third baseman Jon Freeman.
Besides the two scores by Weber, Mason’s other run came in the second inning, when Horneman doubled to right and then came home on sophomore Nick Bourbeau’s single. Also contributing to Mason’s total of seven hits were Freeman (a double) and Duncan (a single).
Mason-Manassas Park games are usually a good ticket. Their two meetings last season were close victories for the Mustangs, including a 2-1 extra-innings thriller at Park. And in this game, the Cougars fought to the end: In the fifth inning, a rare fielding error by Mason led to a Park score, and in the sixth inning, after Kaplow issued a two-out walk, the Cougars had the tying run at bat.
But Kaplow slammed the door with a strikeout and the Mustang players and fans heaved a sigh of relief. “Good to get that first district win,” Weber said.
Thursday, Mason takes its 3-1 record to Middleburg Academy for a 4:30 p.m game. Bull Run District play resumes again on Friday with a 5 p.m. home contest against Madison County. Then nest Tuesday the Mustangs travel to Bull Run rival Clarke County for a 5 p.m. game.