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Jul, 2024

Fairfax National 8-10 Majors All Stars win District 10 Title

Thanks to AP Sports writer Ben Nuckols for the following recap.

Colin Puffer worked out of a first-and-third, none-out jam on the mound. Facing the same situation as a batter, he came through.
Colin flicked an offspeed pitch past the shortstop’s outstretched glove and into center field, scoring automatic runner Cedric Kuo and giving Fairfax National a 2-1, eight-inning victory over Fairfax American in the District 10 semifinals at Chilcott Stadium on Monday, June 24.
Two days later, Colin was on the mound again for the Red Flash, working efficiently into the fourth inning and giving his teammates’ bats a chance to heat up in an 11-6 win over SYA at Burke Field for the District 10 title.
Fairfax National went 5-0 in the district tournament thanks to a deep and consistent lineup that produced double-digit hits in every game. But the key to the championship was the extra-inning showdown with the familiar faces of Fairfax American.
The semifinal was postponed by two days because of heat, which meant every pitcher was rested and available. And it was appropriate that Cedric scored the winning run, because he pitched the game of his life to give Fairfax National that opportunity.
Cedric came in as a reliever with two outs in the top of the first inning and Fairfax National trailing 1-0. He got out of that jam in two pitches and silenced the Fairfax American bats from there. Cedric’s incredible totals: 5 1/3 innings, no hits, eight strikeouts and three walks. He worked a perfect second, struck out the side in the third and only got into a bit of trouble in the fourth, when he induced an inning-ending grounder with two runners on.
Meantime, the Red Flash got plenty of traffic on the bases against hard-throwing Fairfax American pitchers Isaac Pearson and Dylan Fetter-Litman, but they struggled to bring them home.
Fairfax National finally got on the board in the fourth when Andy Valentine and Luke Hetzler led off with base hits and Mikey Martin tied it with a line-drive single to left. Fairfax American kept it tied thanks to second baseman Will Ritter, who made a shoestring catch of a line drive by Jimmy Nuckols.
The tension built as darkness fell. Ryan Choi singled for Fairfax National leading off the sixth but was erased on a double play.
Fairfax American got two well-placed infield hits to load the bases against Colin in the seventh, but he induced an inning-ending grounder.
Fairfax National hit three balls hard in the seventh with nothing to show for it. Will Cullum lined out to left, Jimmy singled with two outs and Cedric hit a line drive that again found the glove of Will Ritter, this time at shortstop.
The eighth began with an automatic runner on second and Colin worked out of it. In the bottom half, speedy Andre Van der Walt beat out an infield single and then Colin ended it on the first pitch he saw. His teammates poured out of the dugout to mob him in the infield before quickly lining up to shake hands with their friends from Fairfax American.
The Red Flash had 11 hits in that semifinal game, and their confidence at the plate carried over into the championship.
Leading off the bottom of the second, Jimmy fouled a 1-2 pitch off his foot and then lined the next pitch to right for a single. Cedric singled to left, Andre followed with an infield hit, and Colin and Grayson Long each hit RBI grounders to make it 2-0.
Fairfax National finally faced some adversity in the fourth, giving up six runs on five hits, a walk and a hit by pitch. Relief pitcher Joey Marfori ended the frame with a strikeout, and SYA’s four-run lead turned out to be short-lived.
Will led off the bottom of the fourth by smoking a double to left-center. After two errors and two walks, Colin’s RBI single made it 6-5 and Grayson tied it with a run-scoring grounder. Liam Koehler drove in the go-ahead run with a single, Joey made it 9-6 with a line-drive double to right, and Andy and Luke followed with RBI singles.
Fairfax National sent 15 batters to the plate and scored nine times, and SYA couldn’t respond. Joey closed out the victory by catching a bloop back to the mound and throwing to first baseman Grayson to double off the runner.
The Red Flash’s tournament run began on June 15 with a 9-2 win over Annandale-North Springfield at Pine Ridge Park. Fairfax National got a fine start by Cedric, who allowed one unearned run in four innings, while the Red Flash’s bats eventually turned a close game into a rout.
Grayson went 3-for-3 with a double. Luke, Joey and Andy also doubled. Liam had two hits and threw out two runners from right field on force plays. Andy and Colin also had two hits apiece, and Joey drove in two runs.
Fairfax National faced Fairfax American in its second pool play game and came out hot right away, scoring six runs in the first inning and two more in the second. Joey went 3-for-3 from the leadoff spot, Colin went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, Luke and Jimmy each drove in two, and Andy and Cedric had two hits apiece.
In their final pool play game, pitchers Mikey, Liam and Will combined to allow five hits and one unearned run in a 7-1 win over Coles at George Hellwig Memorial Park in Manassas. Andy, Will and Mikey had two hits apiece, and Luke drove in two runs.
Fairfax National sends its 8-10 Majors squad to the state tournament for the second straight year, and it’s the first trip to states for manager Josh Cullum and assistants Geoff Koehler and Brian Marfori. A year earlier, Cullum’s 8-9 minors team suffered a heartbreaking extra-inning loss in the district championship game, but this year, the Red Flash shined in overtime.

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