Patriots should return strong nucleus in 2015
CHARLES TOWN – Washington baseball coach Mark Hash had a plan and, for the most part, everything fell into place.
Short a couple of runs scored on passed balls and a few crucial base-running miscues, the Patriots likely would have been playing for a Class AAA state championship. But it was not to be, and a storybook season that saw Washington set program records for victories and postseason success fell a bit short in Charleston.
Senior pitcher Jared Silva threw five strong innings against eventual state-champion Hurricane in the state semifinals Friday at Appalachian Power Park, allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits and four walks with six strikeouts. But Silva was pressured for much of the game as the Redskins put 13 runners on base against him and reliever Zac Burch en route to a 3-1 victory, snapping a 14-game winning streak by Washington.
Junior pitcher J.T. Rogoszewski countered by allowing just four hits and four walks while striking out three, sending Hurricane to a championship showdown the following day against Riverside. The Redskins made quick of the Warriors on Saturday with a 9-2 victory, handing Hurricane its first state title since 2002.
Washington ended its season 23-5, eclipsing the 20-win mark for the first time while earning the school’s first berth in the state baseball tournament’s final four.
“You had two evenly matched teams, I thought, with two very good pitchers,” Hash said. “It came down to who was going to make a mistake and who is going to be able to take advantage of a mistake. We made a couple of mistakes and Hurricane, like good teams do, took advantage of it. That’s baseball and that’s what happened.”
Hurricane took a 1-0 lead in the second without a hit as the leadoff hitter walked, was sacrificed to second and took third on a ground ball. Brandon Pauley then scored on a passed ball to take a 1-0 lead.
Washington tied the game in the third when senior outfielder Bryan Bayliss walked with two outs, stole second and then scored on a single by Silva.
But the Redskins regained the lead in the bottom half of the third after Rogoszewski was hit by a pitch and a courtesy runner reached second following a walk. An RBI-single put Hurricane up for good.
The Redskins added another run in the sixth when Burch allowed a double and later allowed the runner to advance to third on a wild pitch and then score on a passed ball.
“Looking back on the year, we had a plan going in,” Hash said Monday. “We sat down as coaches and talked about how we wanted to rotate kids and we stuck to that plan.
“We’ve been real proud of out kids all year long,” Hash added. “Talking to people today they’ve all been saying, ‘you had a great season.’ In a week I might sit back and reflect on that, but right now I’ve still got that bad taste of that loss to Hurricane and watching the other two teams (Riverside and Wheeling Park) play on the other end of the semifinals.”
But upon reflection, Hash and assistant coaches Mike Smith and Justin Stephenson will likely find solace among a litany of accomplishments including winning the most games in program history, as well as a spring break tournament bracket championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and postseason sectional and regional titles.
The foundation for much of that success can be laid at the feet of Silva, a four-year starter scheduled to play Division I collegiate baseball beginning this fall at Virginia Military Institute.
Silva finished the season with a 7-2 record while allowing less than one earned runs per game through 48 innings of work. Silva also batted .400 for the Patriots and drove in a team-second-best 21 runs.
But by no means was Silva a one-man show. Washington had a number of players contribute both in the field and on the mound, including several underclassmen that have the coaching staff looking forward to 2015.
“We’re very excited about next year,” Hash said. “We’ve already been talking about what our plans are for next year.”
Junior catcher Texas Cobb and sophomore infielder and pitcher Robert Cross had stellar seasons for Washington. Cobb batted .354 while catching more the 90 percent of the innings for the Patriots, while Cross led the team with a .417 batting average and 27 RBI.
“We knew he had the capability, but we never dreamed he was going to hit .400,” Hash said. “Next year? Yes. As a senior? Yes. But not as a sophomore. That’s pretty impressive.”
Hash also mentioned Burch, a junior pitcher and second baseman, as well as junior outfielder Corey Lewis, junior outfielder and pitcher Trevor Pansch and junior pitcher and shortstop Ryan French among others as players who made solid contributions this season.
“We had a lot of guys really step up,” Hash said. “It’s not just one or two, and that’s what it takes. We’re going to ask those kids to take another step or two steps up the ladder next year.”
The coach also mentioned the team’s impressive overall 3.56 grade point average and respectful behavior as attributes he won’t soon forget.
“Those guys are doing everything right,” he said. “They’re doing things the way they should be done. Those guys need to be proud of themselves as people. We’re real proud to just be able to say we coached them.”