Patriot’s baseball season ended Tuesday with a sense of déjà vu.
For the second consecutive season, Centreville knocked the Pioneers out of the Class 6 Region D tournament, beating them 2-0 in Nokesville during the semifinals after a similar 6-1 road victory over Patriot last May.
Wildcats pitcher Christian Sanchez dominated the showdown in 2018, but this season Patriot and Centreville’s pitching was almost even. Right-handed junior Riley Eikhoff tossed 6 1/3 innings for the Pioneers, allowing only five hits for two runs while striking out 11.
“Riley gave us his best start of the year,” Patriot coach Josh Steinberg said. “He gave us the quality start we needed to win the ballgame. We just didn’t execute offensively.”
The Pioneers finished Tuesday with only six hits.
“Last game we didn’t have much of an opportunity to win, but this game we definitely had an opportunity,” Steinberg said, comparing the losses to Centreville. “They took advantage of our mistakes and they didn’t make any mistakes.”
The Pioneers made three errors, including an overthrow to first from shortstop Andrew Casey in the top of the third inning. Centreville’s Connor Ngyuen reached on the error and scored the game’s first run on a Michael Williver RBI single.
Patriot had its best scoring threat in the bottom of the sixth inning with the bases loaded and only one out. Centreville brought in Hunter Bell, a VCU recruit, from the bullpen and Brian Wilson grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the scoring opportunity.
“We had a chance to win the ballgame, but it just came down to our offensive execution,” Steinberg said. “We didn’t hit.”
The Pioneers had runners on second and third multiple times but could not score, stranding 11 runners on base in the contest.
Centreville padded its lead in the top of the seventh as Lahe Calvo reached second on a high popup that bounced off the glove of a Patriot infielder. Then he advanced to third on one passed ball by catcher Josh Jansen and scored on another.
“I think Jansen just misread a ball,” Steinberg said. “Riley obviously throws hard; his balls have a lot of movement.
“It’s been hot and Jansen’s back there for seven innings,” the coach said. “That could have been a factor.”
Regardless, Steinberg felt encouraged by Patriot’s 17-5 season.
“It just gives us a sign that the future’s bright,” he said. “Every one of our go-to arms is coming back next year.
“I hope they take the moments that we had this season, even this back end of the postseason, and use it as motivation and fire to get back here,” Steinberg said.