Baseball: Cougars Set Stage for Second Half Comeback
Oakton High wins second straight Concorde District game
With its second straight Concorde District win, the Oakton High baseball team is showing signs of a possible comeback in the second half of the season.
The Cougars defeated the Chantilly Chargers 6-3 on Tuesday, with starting pitcher Matt Gregor throwing three strikeouts and giving up three hits in his complete game outing. Gregor had a perfect game through 4 2/3 innings and kept the Chargers scoreless through six.
"Matt was awesome, just all over the strike zone and using his defense, who made a couple really nice plays behind him," Coach Justin Janis said.
The Cougars put their first three runs on the scoreboard with two outs in the second inning. With juniors Mitchell Carroll and Conor Flanagan on first and second after each hit singles, the Chargers made an error on a groundball from senior Dennis Cooney, allowing a run to score. Then junior Kyle Burger hit a two-run single to right field for a 3-0 lead.
Carroll added two more runs for the Cougars with a line drive double to score senior Mason Hauser and junior Brian Burns, who both reached on singles, in the third inning. The Cougars posted their sixth and final run in the fifth inning on a double down the left field line from Burns to score Hauser to give the Cougars a 6-0 lead heading into the sixth.
Carroll, Hauser and Burns each went 2 for 3. The Cougars had eight hits in the game. Two batters struck out and one walked.
"The guys did a fantastic job on offense today. It was really nice to have the run support," said Gregor, who added it helped ease some of the pressure he felt going into the seventh inning with a shutout on the line. "I usually only go about five innings, so it felt good to be able to go all seven. I knew it was a shutout, but I also knew my pitch count wasn't too high and that we had a six-run lead."
The Cougars have had an up-and-down week, starting last Friday with their 9-3 victory over Herndon for their first Concorde District win. Starting pitcher Conor Flanagan gave up one run in six innings while the Cougar offense piled on nine runs. The next day, the Cougars lost to Liberty District's Madison High 10-5, largely because of defensive mistakes.
But the Cougars seemed determined to put Saturday's disappointing performance behind them, backing up Gregor with a sense of urgency and finesse to make several leaping catches and stops to prevent the Chargers from getting a hit for more than four innings.
"And even Joey [Bartosic in center field] dove to try to stop that first hit, and I really appreciated the effort," Gregor said. "The defense played stellar, just great, regardless of that last inning."
The defense struggled in the seventh inning with three errors resulting in three runs for the Chargers. But Coach Justin Janis said overall he was pleased with the way the Cougars are returning to the same team that started the season 6-1 before district play began.
"I think the first round of district games, we just had a couple bad breaks that didn't go our way," Janis said. "Part of it was that we created that bad luck, but at the same time we knew we weren't a bad team. It would've been easy for the kids to give up on themselves after going 0-5, but they didn't. And that's been the best thing about coaching these guys, they keep showing up and working hard."
The victory puts the Cougars' district record at 2-5. The team hopes to even out the record with three district games remaining. It is likely the best ranking they can hope for is fifth, but a long win streak would give them momentum heading into the district tournament.
The Cougars will travel to Robinson (4-3) on Thursday for another district matchup. The first time the Cougars and Rams faced each other, the Rams won 6-4.