McGuire fires hot James Wood to baseball win over Sherando

WINCHESTER — After his team’s 0-2 start in the Class 4 Northwestern District, James Wood baseball coach Adrian Pullen remained confident his squad was one of the best teams in the league.

And since then, the Colonels have proved that, losing just one league game, a 1-0, 11-inning thriller against district champion Millbrook.

James Wood (15-4 overall, 8-3 district) clinched either the second or third seed and a home game in the upcoming district tournament with a 6-1 triumph against Sherando on Tuesday.

Colin McGuire tossed a four-hitter with 12 strikeouts and Bodie Pullen, Jared Neal and Brody Bower delivered all seven of the Colonels’ hits from the top three spots in the lineup.

James Wood’s seeding now depends on how Fauquier (5-4) finishes out district play this week. The Falcons, who defeated the Colonels 6-0 to open district play, have games scheduled against Liberty (Wednesday), Sherando (Thursday) and James Wood (Friday). One Fauquier loss will give the Colonels the No. 2 seed and the opportunity to host at least two playoff games at R. Charles Hott Field.

What made Adrian Pullen so optimistic after the tough start?

“This group is special because they work all of the time,” Pullen said. “They don’t get too above and get satisfied. They know we can be better and they do what we ask. … We do the things to get better because they know they’ve got a lot more in them and they know that we as a coaching staff believe in them. They know that if they continue to work that good things are going to happen.”

Certainly that was the case for McGuire, who had a rough night with his control in the district opener against Fauquier. He’s steadily improved throughout the season and was outstanding against the Warriors, with no walks in his complete-game effort.

“I think really the bond with my teammates is really what got me [to improve],” the junior right-hander said. “It was the beginning of the year and there were new team members and stuff like that. I just didn’t really feel as comfortable. I think the bond really made me feel more comfortable and confident in my pitches.”

McGuire needed some confidence as the contest got off to a shaky start with an error and a hit putting Sherando’s first two batters on board. McGuire recovered by striking out the next three hitters.

“I thought that was a big stepping stone to how the game went,” McGuire said of getting out of the jam. “At first I was a little shaky getting my pitches going and finding the strike zone, but after striking out the first guy I found my groove and settled in for the rest of the game.”

“If we just put the ball in play a couple of times and who knows, the ball might drop like it did for them,” Sherando coach Pepper Martin said of the inning. “… When we get those runners on, we have got to find a way to put the ball in play so we have an opportunity to score.”

As Martin alluded, the Colonels were able to find a way to put the ball in play in that first inning, which resulted in three quick runs. James Wood didn’t hit the ball hard against Sherando starter Cole Orr, but found a couple of holes.

Bodie Pullen opened the game with a bloop single down the right-field line and Jared Neal blooped another single into short right field. With runners at second and third, Brody Bower grounded an RBI single to right. Neal scored on a passed ball and Bower raced home on Jacob Roy’s groundout.

The Colonels tacked on two more in the third. Neal belted a one-out double to right-center and moved to third on Bower’s bunt single. Neal came home on McGuire’s sacrifice fly and Bower (3-for-3 in the contest) scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-0.

Bodie Pullen, who had flirted with some balls to the fence all season, finally cleared it in the fifth. He launched a towering drive to left to make it 6-0.

“I knew I hit it well, so I thought there was a pretty good chance, but I wasn’t 100 percent sure,” said Pullen, who was one of five honored before the game on Senior Day. “It was awesome. It was all I could have dreamed for.”

McGuire cruised along allowing just one hit over the first five innings.

The Warriors (11-8, 5-6) finally got on the scoreboard in the sixth. David English smacked a two-out double to left and scored on Zach Symons’ single to right.

Trey Williams would single and get into scoring position in the seventh, but Colonels left fielder Michael Jackson made a fine sliding catch to end the game.

“I found my groove after I got the first out of the game,” said McGuire, who relied on his cut fastball and threw 73 strikes among his 100 pitches. “They are a good hitting team and I was thinking going in that I have to be careful, but I thought I did pretty well.”

“Colin did a great job tonight,” Adrian Pullen said. “He’s been working on a little bit of an adjustment that he was doing and tonight for the most part he made that adjustment with his mechanics and it showed with how he was pounding the zone.”

McGuire impressed Martin. “He probably had his best start of the year tonight,” the Sherando coach said. “He got ahead in the count on us. He hit his spots. He changed speeds on us. He did an excellent job and we didn’t do a very good job making adjustments.”

In the first inning, Bodie Pullen added to his season stolen base record with his 30th steal, now five better than the previous record holder, his father Adrian.

“That was awesome,” Bodie said pf breaking his father's mark. “That was cool. I have talked about it all my life and I just really wanted to do it.”

“It’s something that for me I’ve looked forward to for a long time,” Adrian Pullen said. “I’ve coached him since he started playing and we built his game around speed. We play it like our pants are on fire. … He’s left the old man way behind.”

With one game left before the postseason, the Colonels are feeling confident they can defend their district tournament title.

“We’re definitely starting to hit our stride which is good,” Bodie Pullen said. “We said early in the season we need to be playing our best baseball in May. That’s what we’re doing right now. Hopefully we can keep that going in the playoffs.”

Meanwhile the Warriors are trying to rebound after dropping three straight district games.

“We’re fading like a cheap suit right now,” Martin said. “We’ve got to do everything in our power to right this ship and turn things around heading into our last district contest. That way we have some positive vibes heading into the playoffs.

“Once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen. But what we’re doing here is putting ourselves into a bad position. Quite possibly tonight, we put ourselves in a seed where we are going to have to travel somewhere as opposed to having a home game. That’s big.”

— Contact Walt Moody at

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