James Wood drops district baseball opener to Fauquier

WINCHESTER — Certainly Tuesday’s Class 4 Northwestern District opener didn’t go the way the defending champion James Wood baseball team wanted.

There was no way to sugarcoat the 6-0 loss against Fauquier, which got a five-hit shutout from starting pitcher Blaine Smith, and Colonels coach Adrian Pullen wasn’t going to try.

“It was a rough start,” said Pullen, whose team fell behind 3-0 in the first inning at R. Charles Hott Field and never recovered. “Things didn’t go our way. We didn’t make pitches. We didn’t make plays. We didn’t swing the bat. It was an all-around poor effort on our part.”

But Pullen has been around the game long enough to know that the ball can bounce the other way, too.

“It’s the game of baseball,” he said. “They put the ball in great spots and we couldn’t make a play. We hit the ball hard right at them. It happens. It happens. Tonight wasn’t our night. Hats off to Fauquier. They beat us and we’ll live for another day.”

The Falcons (3-1, 1-0) grabbed that early lead and Smith, a 6-foot-4 right-hander who is committed to Hood College, made it stick.

Throwing a fastball, slider and change-up, Smith kept the Colonels guessing for most of the contest.

“I was just getting ahead early and really trusting my defense,” said Smith, who walked four and fanned five. “My confidence built as the game went — more runs, more confidence.”

“He’s just locked in right now,” Fauquier coach Matt O’Saben said. “He’s throwing all three pitches for strikes and he’s putting them where he wants to. He’s able to keep other teams off-balance and he did that tonight for us.”

Smith had a lead to work with before he walked out onto the mound for the first time as the Falcons struck against James wood starter Colin McGuire. John Bynaker and Damen Tapscott walked and Garrett Cockerille had an infield hit to load the bases with no outs.

McGuire struck out Smith, but Matthew Graham had an infield hit in the hole between short and third base to plate one run. Ethan Brown followed with a two-run single to left to make it 3-0.

Smith’s RBI single to right made it 4-0 in the second.

The Colonels (2-1) threatened in the second, loading the bases with two outs thanks to a pair of walks sandwiched around Jared Neal’s single to right. Smith was able to get a groundout to end the inning.

The Falcons tacked on two more and chased McGuire in the third. Henry Davenport had an RBI single and another run scored on an error.

“I thought the guys took a really good approach and took advantage of the opportunities we got,” O’Saben said. “We didn’t waste those chances. We were able to get runs when we had guys on.”

Daniel Franceschi came on and got the final two outs of the inning and threw 1.2 innings of scoreless and hitless relief. Nick Bell pitched the final three innings, striking out five and allowing two hits and one walk. For the season, Bell has pitched seven innings, allowing three hits, no runs and striking out 14.

The Colonels had baserunners in the final three innings, but could not score. In the fifth, a runner was erased on a bunt that turned into a double play. In the sixth, Smith picked off a runner. And with runners at first and third in the seventh, Smith got a strikeout to end the game.

“I wanted this one bad,” Smith said of the complete game. “I wanted that seventh inning.”

“We hit the ball hard early. We hit the ball a couple of times late,” Pullen said. “We couldn’t put things together. We couldn’t finish an inning. We had our opportunities and we just didn’t get it. That’s the game of baseball. That’s the beauty of it.”

Cockerille and Graham had two hits apiece, while Bynaker walked three times for the Falcons. Jacob Roy and Neal had two hits apiece for the Colonels.

James Wood will get a chance to rebound on Thursday at Liberty. Pullen said his club will not dwell on Tuesday’s setback.

“We’ll be ready to go on Thursday,” he said. “It’s just one game. One game is not going to end our season.”

— Contact Walt Moody at

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