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Jun, 2023

Fairfax National 9-11 Minors All Stars win District 10 Title

Thanks to The Associated Press writer/editor Ben Nuckols for the following recap.

Given a second chance to respond to a rough inning against Annandale-North Springfield, Nathan Goodwyn seized the opportunity -- and so did the rest of the Fairfax National 9-11 Minors All-Stars. 

Nathan pitched a perfect fourth inning to give his team a chance to rally, reliever Ethan Fullinwider closed the door behind him, and the “Fairfax Hustle” beat ANSLL 12-8 Tuesday night in a rain-delayed District 10 championship game at muddy Pine Ridge Park. 

The Hustle repeatedly seized the big moments. They blew a big lead against SYA West in pool play before hanging on to win. After a sloppy loss to ANSLL, they rallied late to beat Fairfax American and earn the rematch with ANSLL for the title. 

In the championship game, Fairfax National trailed 7-5 when Nathan took the mound in the fourth, the result of a seven-run third inning by ANSLL, which had some solid hits but also benefited from a few Fairfax miscues in the field. 

Working to a new catcher, his regular-season batterymate Jimmy Nuckols -- with starting backstop Ethan preparing to pitch -- Nathan retired the first batter on two pitches. He struck out the next batter on a 3-2, inside-corner fastball that Jimmy held for the umpire, who paused and then raised his fist to call strike three. Then he got a grounder that Ethan fielded cleanly at shortstop to end the 1-2-3 inning. 

Although Fairfax still trailed, the Hustle sensed the moment was theirs. 

Leading off the fifth, Jimmy got hit by a pitch and Danny Mahoney singled. Jimmy scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to one. After a walk by Mason Adair, Ethan lined a single to center to tie the game. Then Jackson Rollins came up with the Hustle’s biggest clutch hit of the tournament, lining the first pitch past the first baseman for an opposite-field, go-ahead double. 

Andre Van der Walt fouled off two pitches before drawing a bases-loaded walk to make it 9-7, Carter Munro also walked with the bases full, and Fairfax added two more runs on some miscues by ANSLL for a five-run advantage. 

That was more cushion than Ethan needed. He gave up a leadoff single in the fifth but retired the next three batters, with ANSLL getting one run on a grounder. In the sixth, center fielder Danny made a sliding catch on a line drive to retire the leadoff batter. Ethan fielded a comebacker for the second out, then induced a first-pitch popup to third baseman Jackson, who gloved it to kick off the celebration. 

Fairfax National began its tournament with Nathan on the mound, and he was dominant against SYA East, striking out eight batters in a four-inning complete game that Fairfax won 12-2. He also drove in the Hustle’s first runs of the tournament with a first-inning double. 

Fairfax added six more runs in the third. Jackson had a two-run single, and Andre, Jimmy and Mason also drove in runs. In the fourth, the first four batters reached to bring up Andre, who laced a line drive past the SYA East center fielder for a walk-off, inside-the-park home run. Andre finished 2-for-2, Steven Adair III went 3-for-3 and Mason was 2-for-2. 

Against SYA West in pool play, the Hustle took a 12-1 lead after two innings thanks in part to RBI doubles by Ethan, Jackson and Duncan DiGiusto. Then it all nearly came undone in the third, when Fairfax gave up five walks, five hits and nine runs to make it 12-12. 

The Hustle got some gritty pitching by Carter to keep the game tied into the fifth, when Duncan drove in the go-ahead run with his second double of the day. Fairfax added six more runs to make it 19-12. In the sixth, SYA West scored four times and had the potential tying run on third base when shortstop Colton Mayle snagged a line drive to end it. 

Jackson finished the game 3-for-3 with four RBIs, Ethan went 3-for-4 and drove in three, and Chris Mui had an RBI single and an impressive catch of a line drive to center. Carter battled through three innings on the mound, throwing 63 pitches to secure the win. 

In their pool play loss to ANSLL, the Hustle fell behind 6-0 in the first inning and could never catch up, losing 16-7. Andre, Carter and Mason each had two hits, and Jackson drove in two runs. 

Fairfax National needed a win against Fairfax American to have any hope of reaching the championship game, and the Hustle had to do it without slick-fielding Colton, who was home sick. Starting pitcher Ethan set the tone in the first inning by retiring the side in order. The game was scoreless in the third when Jimmy singled and Danny tripled him home. 

Fairfax American went ahead 4-1 in the fourth, but the Hustle found a way in the fifth. Andre led off with a walk, ultimately scoring on a wild pitch. Nathan also scored on a wild pitch, Jimmy drove in the tying run with an infield single, and Fairfax National squeezed ahead 6-4 thanks to an error and a passed ball. 

Defense sealed it for Fairfax National in the sixth. After the leadoff batter reached on an error, third baseman Jackson fielded a grounder and threw to second baseman Mason to get the lead runner. With two men on, shortstop Ethan sealed it, catching a line drive and stepping on second to double off the runner. 

Ethan struck out five and gave up one earned run in his four innings on the mound, Carter earned his second win in relief, and Jimmy finished 2-for-2 while playing all six innings at catcher. 

Once the championship game finally got under way, the Hustle lived up to their name right away as the first four batters reached base. Mason led off the game by beating out an infield hit, Jackson had a two-run single, and Nathan lined a single to center to make it 3-0. Fairfax made it 5-0 in the third on Nathan’s two-run double. 

Then came the rough third inning, after which Fairfax National played its best baseball when it mattered most. Jackson finished the game 2-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs scored, Ethan went 2-for-3 and Nathan went 2-for-3. 

After the celebratory huddle on the field, the handshake line and the trophy ceremony, the Hustle dumped a bucked of Gatorade on manager Steve Adair, who brought together a team that lived up to its nickname and embodied his catchphrase: “Perfect effort, not perfection.” 

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