Briar Woods Baseball, 2016 Conference 14 Champions / courtesy photo
Ashburn, VA (May 21, 2016) – An 11-9 record in 2013 was the only time the Briar Woods Falcons baseball team ever posted a record over .500 – until this season.
This Falcons team predicted its own success beyond a winning record: they wanted to be the champs, be the best by beating the best, and make the school’s first run to a state championship. And by winning the Conference 14 Championship game against Stone Bridge – they achieved just that.
This year’s team, stacked with strong senior leadership, talented juniors on the rise and a crop of play-making sophomores, consistently outworked their opponents en route to a 17-4 record. The morale, heart and talent of this team led them to multiple come-from-behind victories, and solidified their bond as the best squad Briar Woods has ever fielded.
A strategically crafted line-up left no safe havens for opposing pitchers. With strong hitting and skilled base running throughout the order – these Falcons drove each other to rack up the best season record in the school’s history. Stand out hitting was a factor all season. Home runs courtesy of seniors Gino Ventrice, Caleb Barnes, and Zach Covert, juniors Mike Ludowig and Jake Kleifges, and sophomore George Rosales, showcased the power these sluggers brought to the plate. Zach Covert lit-up the boards with back-to-back triples in the Gavin Rupp tribute victory against Stone Bridge. Sophomore Johnny Richardson came through with multiple big hits resulting in game changing RBIs. Nathan Davis unfailingly stayed hot, scoring his teammates with alarming regularity. Which is why the packed Briar Woods faithful were shocked when Stone Bridge decided to intentionally walk Barnes in the Conference 14 Championship to get to the Falcon’s most consistent hitter. The result of that error, a base clearing off the fence double that broke the 2-2 tie and put the Falcons up for good by the score 5-2.
Solid defense was a key component in outscoring their opponents 129-59 in 21 game. The Falcons never allowed a team to post double digits against them, and allowed an incredible average of under 3 runs per game. Rosales was a wall behind the plate, throwing out multiple runners at first and second base. Highlight-reel-type infield plays from Kleifges, Covert and Davis punctuated their victories; junior Matt Lord pulled off multiple seam-splitting stops at first; and the outfield stole hits from opposing teams by tracking down balls with laser focus. Senior Jacob Hand literally covered centerfield from end-to-end, Ventrice controlled the left, and Ludowig held down the right – all three of which went error free on the season.
Pitching has been a thing of beauty this season. Caleb Barnes, the winningest pitcher is school history, led the charge with 5 wins on the season. Pitchers Tyler Germanowski, Sean Clark, Jack Jaekle, and closer Ludowig, all with fastballs in the mid-80’s, return next year to defend this championship.
Briar Woods appears in the school’s first baseball regional on Thursday May 26 at 6pm at Falcons Park.
Story by Renee Ventrice
Special to Viva Loudoun