In a tense matchup between Bull Run district rivals last Friday, the George Mason High School junior varsity baseball team fell just short to Madison County, losing 4-3 in a game that went down to the wire.
Mason sophomore Ethan Anderson turned in a complete game, striking out five and walking none. Anderson was helped early by some flashy defense, as the Mustangs turned a difficult 5-4-3 double play to close out Madison in the first inning. Fielding a hard hit grounder, third baseman Brian Crigler fired to second baseman Vijay Menon, who rifled the relay to first baseman Grant Hagler. The Mason defense continued its strong play in the second, as catcher Alex McMillen made a fine running catch of a pop up and left fielder Nick Roberson covered a lot of territory getting to a fly ball in foul ground.
Trailing 1-0 in the third, Mason’s offense got on track as shortstop Sam Selby reached base via an infield hit, followed by a single ripped to center by Anderson. Hagler bunted safely to load the bases and center fielder Evan Davis collected an RBI on a fielder’s choice. It was a night of many long outs by Mason batters, as Ryan Short flied deep to right to end the inning. McMillen would follow with one of the longest blasts of the season in the fourth, only to have the Madison left fielder make an excellent catch.
The game remained tied at 1-1 through four innings. Selby got things started in the top of the fifth with a single, followed by a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by Anderson. Davis then singled with one out. After the runners moved up to second and third, the stage was set for a clutch single blasted by Menon, giving Mason a 3-1 lead. The Mason faithful were on their feet when Roberson blasted a deep drive to center, only to be thwarted again by Madison’s defense.
A double and single in bottom of the fifth brought Madison with one run. Mason was unable to capitalize on singles by Selby and McMillen in the sixth inning, and Madison came up in the bottom of the inning looking to take the lead. A couple of hits and some Mason miscues brought Madison to a 3-3 tie with runners on first and third and one out. Then came a play that old timers would later swear they hadn’t seen in a long time – and one that the young players will be talking about for a long time. With Coach Frazier setting the strategy, the Mason defense executed a perfectly timed play, with McMillen firing a rocket toward second to get the runner attempting to steal. As planned, Menon cut in front of the throw and threw a strike to home to nail the runner. Cheers turned to groans as the ball came loose when McMillen applied the tag. A chagrined McMillen was only slightly cheered by reminders that his strong defense had anchored the Mason effort throughout the evening.
Mason went quietly in the seventh, giving Madison a hard fought win and setting the stage for what will undoubtedly be an exciting rematch when the teams meet again in Falls Church.