By Jeff Nations
WOODSTOCK -- Coming off pitching a no-hitter in his last start, it should come as no surprise that Central right-hander Hayden Bauserman wasn't quite as sharp against visiting Manassas Park in Tuesday night's Bull Run District baseball matchup.
Central's defense wasn't so sharp, either, as the Falcons committed four errors and added a costly mental lapse.
Still, Central (8-4, 3-2 Bull Run) might have survived all that with a solid offensive showing. Instead, the Falcons managed just one hit in a 4-2 loss.
"We hit a couple balls hard -- they just didn't fall," Central coach Donn Foltz said. "Our offense was struggling tonight. That's their pitchers. And we made a couple of miscues."
The Falcons grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. John Plunkett reached on a two-base error with one out, and one out later Sam Cornman mustered the Falcons only hit of the night with a sharp line drive to center field off Cougars starting pitcher Chris Hoffa.
For awhile, that looked like it might be enough. Bauserman, who fired a six-inning no-hitter against Rappahannock County last week, sailed through the first three innings, with only two Cougars reaching on errors during that time.
In the fourth, Manassas Park (3-4, 2-3 Bull Run) got its act together at the plate. Josh Richardson led off with a single and Clarence Washington followed with another, then stole second base. Carlos Castillo followed with yet another single to drive in two runs. Castillo moved along the bases, first on a passed ball and then a wild pitch, to end up at third with one out. The Cougars tried a suicide squeeze, but couldn't connect and Castillo had nowhere to go in the ensuing rundown.
That helped Bauserman get through without further damage, and the Falcons evened the score in the fifth. With two outs, Lukas Waldron reached on a swinging strikeout that got way from the catcher, then stole second. Eric Semones followed with a sharply hit ball toward third that slipped through for a run-scoring error.
In the top of the seventh, the Cougars struck again. Pinch hitter Felix Sheard led off by reaching second on a throwing error. Joey Underwood tried to bunt him over to third, but Bauserman cleanly fielded the ball and caught Sheard trying to advance. Underwood, meanwhile, raced on to an uncovered second base. That was costly for Central, as Johnathan Walker followed with a run-scoring single to end Bauserman's night.
"You've got to take the good with the bad, and that was the good with the bad," Foltz said.
The Cougars tacked on one more in the seventh on a Josh Richardson RBI single.
Central got the tying run to the plate with one out after Ben Kline was hit by a pitch, but Richardson came through in relief by striking out Waldron and inducing Eric Semones into a game-ending fly out.
"We needed this one bad," Campbell said. "We bunched our hits tonight. [Bauserman] is a good pitcher, but we finally got something going."
Bauserman finished with 12 strikeouts in the loss.
"He pitched well enough to win," Foltz said. "We just didn't support him."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com>