Purcellville (May 21, 2013) – Heritage High School’s Jack Howard was the answer for the Pride in Tuesday night’s Dulles District semifinal at Woodgrove as he singled to center field driving in two runners to crack open a tied baseball game which Heritage would eventually win 7-2. Matt Gloger got the complete win, allowing just one earned run.
Coming into the season Heritage’s head coach Ryan Price knew he had a wall in the middle infield as Howard is one of the most sure-handed defenders in the district, however, Price and the Pride found a bonus in the sophomore second baseman, who immensely improved his batting in the offseason.
“He surprised us coming into the spring,” Price said. “He always had the glove side and we were pleased with what he brought there. But he worked really hard this winter to get himself in the lineup. He’s come up big down the stretch: knocking guys in and getting us on the board in tight games.”
Howard and his teammates get the chance to field groundballs thanks to the pitching staff that Price and assistant coach Kristian Ellingsen have put together this season.
Ellingsen, the Pride’s pitching coach, gave senior Gloger the call against the second-place Wolverines, and he went the distance giving up one earned run while rolling nine groundball outs.
“We count on Coach Ellingsen to call the groundballs for us,” Price said. “He was able to call a few and get Gloger to get some groundball outs. Gloger was also able to strike a few out to get himself out of jams.”
The Wolverines had legitimate chances in the first, third, fourth and sixth, but Gloger escaped the threats with poise, confidence and a big, bending curveball.
“I was trying to keep focused the whole game,” Gloger said. “I just focused on keeping my ball low, especially my curveball because it was working best for me tonight. The defense played great behind me.
I knew they would make the plays. I had full confidence in them.”
Gloger’s confidence might have been aided as senior Ty Kobylinski cracked a two-run homer – his first career long ball – in the top of the first giving the pitcher a cushion to work with.
“Before the game, Coach Mason and I were talking about how we’d rather be the visiting team to get the momentum started,” Kobylinski said referencing Heritage’s assistant Bill Mason. “My power surge helped the team get going.”
Price noted that Kobylinski’s homerun allowed Gloger to take a breath and “relax a little bit on the bump.”
Heritage will take on Potomac Falls – who ended Loudoun Valley’s title dreams on Tuesday night on a Brendan O’Brien walk-off homerun – in the Dulles District finale on Thursday night in Sterling.
“We have to have the same mindset that we had today and all the other games we won in the playoffs,” Kobylinski said.
Price knows Potomac Falls is an all-around baseball team with a consistent offense and several power arms.
“They’re going to try to add to their trophy case,” Price said. “We’ll be trying to add the first one at Heritage.”