By Sarah Snare
LoCoSports Staff Writer
Leesburg (April 25, 2016) — Despite the thunderstorms looming in the distance, the boys of Potomac Falls and Tuscarora High Schools brought their A-games to the baseball field Friday night for a nail-biting game, concluding the night Panthers 1, Huskies 0.
This was an important game for the Tuscarora boys, not only because of the tough Conference 14 competition, but also because of the special guests they had cheering them on.
This season, the team has dedicated two days every week to visit Francis Hazel Reid Elementary School, just a short five-minute walk from Tuscarora. There, each baseball player is paired with a student in kindergarten or first grade as a reading buddy.
This week, Bauer invited the children and their families to come see their reading buddies in action. In the processionals prior to the game, each player walked out on the field with his buddy as they were introduced to the crowd. Soon the stands were filled with five- and six-year-old kids cheering on their favorite baseball players. Some were even so excited that they stood with their face to the fence the whole game, wanting to be as close to the action as possible.
“They’ve been working with these kids all season,” Bauer said. “So the boys were so excited that their buddies finally got to catch a game.”
Tuscarora – ready to show their buddies a great game – started off the first inning strong, with pitcher Cole Gabriele and his team not allowing a single Panther to make it to first base. Potomac Falls pitcher Spencer Buehler, determined to put up a fight, kept the Huskies off of first base as well.
At the top of the second inning, the Panthers were able to attain the first base hit of the game, but the game was still scarce of runs. Both teams were sending balls flying all the way to the fence – hits that had the audience cheering like crazy. The outfielders, however, were able to catch every one, hindering either side from scoring in the first four innings.
The game picked up at the top of the fifth when Panther Justin Robles nearly hit the ball out of the park, gaining a triple for Potomac Falls. Tuscarora – sensing that their opponent was gaining the upper hand – called a time out immediately following Robles’ big hit. After a quick talk on the mound, Gabriele wound up another great pitch, but Panther Nick Sweger responded with a great hit, allowing his teammate to come home for the first – and only – run of the game.
Potomac Falls continued to play hard, nearly scoring two more runs in the fifth inning. However, Tuscarora had stepped up their game as well and caught the third out of the inning just as Panthers Patrick Hartmann and Drew Weidman were about to run for home.
Tuscarora was almost able to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth, with Husky Ben Knuff on third and ready to run. Knuff, though, got himself in a pickle and was unable to score. Both teams fought hard for the remaining two innings, but the Panthers stayed on top.
Potomac Falls head coach Joe Terango was extremely happy with his boys’ performance.
“I’m very proud of my boys for rising to the challenge,” Terango said. “Defensively, we played a gem of a baseball game tonight.
Over on the other side of the field, Tuscarora head coach Mark Bauer was equally happy with his team, despite the loss.
“[Potomac Falls] had a really good pitcher on the mound tonight, but we matched their effort,” Bauer said. “I’m so proud of the guys.”