Each season, the Madison Warhawks’ primary goal is to win their final game. Doing so means the baseball team will be state champions.
The Vienna squad finds itself in just that situation. With a victory on its home field June 26, the Warhawks (17-1) will win the four-team 2021 Virginia High School League’s Class 6 state tournament, making them state champs for the first time since 2015 and fifth time in program history.
“We always want to win our last game, and now we have one left,” Madison junior Bannon Brazell said.
Brazell helped the Warhawks reach the state final with a three-hit, two-RBI effort in Madison’s 6-0 victory over the host and defending state champion Lake Braddock Bruins (16-2) in a June 22 state semifinal game. He doubled and scored in the second inning and had a two-run single in the fourth.
Brazell said he did not have a good batting practice prior to the contest and then “simplified his swing” during the game.
The win was Madison’s seventh in a row and sixth straight in the postseason for a squad that won Concorde District and 6D North Region tournaments in previous days.
The loss snapped Lake Braddock’s 13-game winning streak.
Brazell had three of Madison’s seven hits against Lake Braddock. Miguel Echazarreta had an RBI bunt single, Bryce Eldridge doubled and singled and Cooper Huffman singled and scored two runs. Jaden Kritsky and Bo Kuhblank had sacrifice bunts.
Two of Madison’s runs scored on wild pitches and another on a balk. An error also hurt Lake Braddock, along with a couple of other wild pitches. The Warhawks, who faced four Lake Braddock pitchers, had base runners in every inning, stranding nine.
“Lake Braddock is a good team with good pitchers,” Madison coach Mark Gjormand said. “I love the way we are playing right now. We played great defense tonight and we moved runners.”
Madison stole four bases.
Madison got a strong starting pitching performance by senior right-hander and staff ace James Triantos, now 8-0. He worked 61/3 innings, allowing just two hits, striking out six and walking two. Evan Blair retired the final two batters he faced on six pitches with a strikeout.
“He was hitting his spots, locating premium stuff and mixing in a pro curveball,” Lake Braddock coach John Thomas said of Triantos. “Our pitchers pretty much pitched the game we needed them to pitch, doing a good job nibbling. We weren’t sound enough with the bats.”
Madison made no errors, and nothing was hit hard off Triantos. There were eight ground-ball outs and he retired 11 in a row at one point. He threw 94 pitches.
Good defensive plays by Madison were turned in by Brazell at third base, Echazarreta at shortstop, Kuhblank at second, Tyler Schoeberlein in left field and Davis Snyder in center.
“I pitched well, I pitched well to contact, and the defense was great behind me,” Triantos said.