With victories over Rappahannock County and Madison County, the George Mason High School varsity baseball team earned a tie for second in the Bull Run District and a chance to extend their season into the Region B Tournament next week.
When the regional pairings are announced, it is expected that the Mustangs will draw a Memorial Day game on the road.
Mason’s win at Rappahannock on May 20 went into the books as a 16-2 rout, but the Mustangs spotted the Panthers a 2-0 lead before getting their scorefest started. Mason moved in front with four runs in the third inning, scored another six runs in the fourth, one more in the fifth and five in the sixth. When Rappahannock went down 1-2-3 in the sixth, the game ended on the mercy rule.
Mason’s younger talents played a key role in the victory. Sophomore Lucas Cherry went 4-4 at the plate and drove in three runs; sophomore Ryan Short pitched three innings and got the win, his third of the season. Their classmates Vijay Menon, Alex McMillen and Ethan Anderson also contributed, as did freshman Grant Hagler.
With the win, Mason concluded the Bull Run regular season at 6-4 in district games, landing them in a three-way tie for second in the district with Clarke County and Manassas Park.
Next up for the Mustangs was a May 23 Bull Run Tournament quarterfinal against Madison County, which last season upset Mason in the district tourney. This year it was another tough contest, but the Mustangs got hits and defensive stops at critical junctures and came away on top, 5-3.
The winning pitcher was junior Jon Freeman, who registered four strikeouts, got good help from his defense, and retired after five innings with Mason leading 4-3. Senior Tyler Duncan came on for the final two innings and earned the save as he and the Mason defense denied the Mountaineers any more runs.
Junior Max Kaplow had the hot bat for Mason, going 2-3, with a single, a double, and two RBIs. Junior Jack Trainor got a double, and singles came from seniors Paul Weber and Chris Horneman, junior Stephen Lubnow, and sophomore Brian Crigler.
That victory lifted Mason’s overall record to 14-7 and sent them on the road Tuesday to Strasburg for a district tournament semifinal against the Rams, who finished atop the Bull Run regular season standings (9-1 district, 14-3 overall) and were riding a seven-game win streak.
With each team starting their ace on the mound – Kaplow for Mason and Zach Cover for Strasburg – it was a pitcher’s duel for much of the game. The Rams scratched out single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings, and Cover held Mason to just three hits for the night (two of them by Weber).
Mason had scoring opportunities in the late innings – Freeman singled and Horneman walked in the fifth; Weber singled and Freeman was hit by a pitch in the sixth – but the Mustangs could not produce the timely hit to bring a run across.
Strasburg led 3-0 and was coming to bat in the bottom of the sixth when lightning forced a game delay of nearly an hour. After play resumed, the Rams added three more runs against relief pitcher Lubnow, and Mason had no answer in the top of the seventh.
Strasburg hosts the Bull Run tournament championship Thursday night against Clarke County, which defeated Manassas Park in Tuesday’s other semifinal. The outcome of that game, and finals across Region B in the Dogwood, Shenandoah and James River districts, will determine where the Mustangs spend Memorial Day.