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By Danny Nolan - firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Coming into Thursday night's Bull Run District tournament final between Clarke County and Strasburg, both had already qualified for the upcoming Group A Region B tournament.
After the game ended, there was no doubt which team was the class of the district.
Aaron Doman pitched four-plus innings and hit the game-winning grand slam to give the Rams a decisive 12-2 win over the Eagles.
Strasburg struck first in the bottom of the second inning. After two walks to start the inning, Collin Cook hit a single that scored Tyler Hott to give the Rams a 1-0 lead. An error later allowed Klay Fogle to come around and extend the lead to two runs.
Meanwhile, Clarke County struggled to figure out how to hit Doman. After retiring four straight batters to start the game, a lone walk was given up before a flyout and a strikeout to finish the second inning. In the third, Doman forced two groundouts before allowing the Eagles' first hit of the night, a single by Jesse Smoot.
Smoot then tried to steal, but Strasburg catcher David Betz calmly threw a zinger to catch him stealing at second base. Doman said his pitching was solid, but the plays made in the field were the reason for the great start.
"It felt like I had my velocity," Doman said. "My curveball was working good. [It was] mainly my defense behind me; without them, I wouldn't have anything."
Sloppy play was the theme in the bottom of the fourth. Doman drove in a run and two more scored on errors to give the Rams a 6-0 advantage.
The Eagles came back in the top of the fifth with hits from four of their first five batters, including a two-run double by Smoot, to cut the lead to 6-2. However, the buck stopped there for Clarke County.
The bottom half of the inning started with two hit batters, followed by three consecutive hits to give Strasburg an 8-2 lead. After a flyout to right field, the bases were loaded with one out as Doman came up to the plate. A few pitches later, the ball had cleared the fence for the game-winning grand slam and a district title.
Doman, later honored as a first team all-district member, trotted around the bases and leaped into a swarm of his teammates, smiling the whole way.
"It felt amazing," Doman said. "I went in looking for a curveball and he threw one in there. I tried to swing and hit it hard, and it went over."
Strasburg and Clarke County will both return to the field Monday to host games in the Region B tournament.