By Brian Eller - firstname.lastname@example.org
FALLS CHURCH -- Will Trelawny's always wondered what it would be like to strikeout the final batter in a playoff game, sealing an emotional win for his team.
After Monday, he no longer has to wonder. With Central clinging to a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, Trelawny caught the final George Mason hitter looking, finishing a complete game for the Falcons, and sealing a dramatic comeback as Central upset the Mustangs, 3-2 in eight innings. Trailing 2-0 in the final inning, the Falcons scored two runs to tie the game, then scored the eventual winning run in extras.
"I dream about that [situation] all of the time," Trelawny said. "You've just got to dig deep. You've got to know that you're not going to lose that game. You've got to do everything in your power that you can to get ahead."
The late-inning heroics are becoming a staple for the Falcons this season. After coming from behind to beat Buffalo Gap and another near-comeback against Page County last week, Central's motto is always the same: "never give up." And against the Mustangs in the Region B quarterfinals, it would've been easy to give up through the first few innings.
George Mason's Brian Lubnow got off to a hot start, retiring 13 of the first 14 batters, and taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Meanwhile, Trelawny found himself in some hot water early on as the Mustangs threatened in the first inning.
Catcher Steven Lubnow singled on the first pitch, then moved to second as Michael Wolfe singled to center field. After a strikeout, Trelawny plunked cleanup hitter Quinn Casteel, loading the bases with just one out. Paul Weber hit an RBI groundout to give the Mustangs the first run, but another groundout helped Trelawny out of the jam with just the one run allowed.
"I had a few slip-ups in there," Trelawny said, "but once I started getting into that groove it started happening. My pitches were hitting and I thought my command was solid in there."
Following a one-two-three second inning, Trelawny again found himself in trouble as Steven Lubnow singled to lead off the third and later scored his second run of the game to put George Mason ahead, 2-0. Central, meanwhile, still had yet to get a hit off of Brian Lubnow as the Falcons came to bat in the fifth.
Two batters in, however, James Brennan broke up the bid for a no-hitter, with a single to right field. Still the Falcons couldn't bring one across the plate and before too long, they were down to their last chance.
In the top of the seventh, cleanup hitter Frank Kopa started things off with a single to left field. As Adam Marston hit a grounder back to the pitcher, Brian Lubnow turned to get the runner heading for second. An error from the pitcher allowed both runners to reach safely, however, giving Central two runners on with no outs.
Brennan grounded into a fielder's choice, putting runners at the corners with one out. A walk to Trelawny loaded the bases and after a strikeout, Central's catcher and No. 9 hitter Kohly Hawkins hit a blooper to left field, racing to first base as he watched it land safely. By the time the ball landed Kopa had already crossed the plate and seconds behind him was pinch-runner Eric Semones, tying the game at two.
"It's what they've been doing the last month or so," Central coach Don Foltz said. "Just never giving up. You can't ever count them out. They never die. It ain't pretty and it ain't flashy, they just get it done."
With the momentum squarely with the Falcons, the game headed to extra innings, where George Mason pulled Brian Lubnow in favor of Tyler Roth. Central, however, took full advantage. Seth Bauserman led off the inning with a single, but was thrown out as Kyle Kelican grounded into a fielder's choice. After a strikeout from Kopa, Marston smacked a double down the right-field line, sending Kelican racing around the bases. Marston was headed safely for second, while Kopa tried to move to third. But an errant throw from the Mustangs allowed Kopa to dash home for the go-ahead run.
"[That run] was definitely uplifting," Trelawny said. "My offense backed me up and it's such a good feeling to have, to have an offense behind you. As a pitcher it's such a good feeling."
With the Falcons out in front, the pressure switched to Trelawny who had to face the heart of George Mason's order. But after a groundout and a flyout, the Central junior needed just one more out, and it came in the form of a called strike three, sending his teammates to the mound in a mob and sending the Falcons one step further toward the team's dream of a regional championship.
"Well, [comebacks] carried us this far," Trelawny joked. "I'd kind of rather we get [the offense] started early, but it's working. We're just doing our thing."