Millbrook rallies for baseball win over James Wood

By WALT MOODY | The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Millbrook’s Bailey Collins was so excited when he got to the plate he almost missed it.

That’s what can happen when you belt a home run on Senior Night.

Collins launched a towering two-run drive to right that proved to be the game-winning hit as the Pioneers rallied to a 7-3 Class 4 Northwestern District baseball victory over James Wood on Thursday night.

Senior Caleb Benner allowed one run over five innings to pick up the victory for the first-place Pioneers (12-7, 8-3), who avenged a 5-1 loss to the Colonels earlier in the season.

“This was a huge game for us and he settled us down little bit,” Millbrook coach Brian Burke said of Benner. “He did what he’s done all year long and that’s be around the plate and force guys to put the ball in play.”

Both teams had a two-out single in the first but could not score.

James Wood capitalized in the second inning. Brett Baker led off the frame against Millbrook starter Jonah Rucker with a one-hopper off the left-field fence and moved to third on Daniel Copenhaver’s single to right. After a strikeout, Will Moore blasted a two-run double over right fielder Chad Fauver’s head to give the Colonels a 2-0 lead.

Millbrook nearly wasted an opportunity in the bottom of the frame. Chandler Ballenger led off with a single, Nick Varcadipane reached on an error and Haden Madagan had a perfect bunt single to load the bases with no outs. Campbell responded by getting a weak pop fly and a strikeout on an excellent curveball, but Cody Wolford drew a walk to get the Pioneers on the board.

James Wood was back on the scoreboard again in the third inning against the reliever Benner. Brett Baker stroked his second single of the game, stole second and scored on Brown’s two-out single to left.

Campbell cruised through the third inning, but ran into trouble in the fourth. Madagan drew a one-out walk and hustled around to score when third baseman Brown threw away Cris Burger’s grounder for a three-base error. John Rosa lofted a sacrifice fly to center to plate courtesy runner Logan Hartigan to tie the game at 3-3.

The Pioneers were far from done. Wolford lined a shot to right and hustled it into a double. Collins then blasted a 1-0 offering far over the right field wall to make it 5-3.

“I’ve never hit one out,” Collins said. “Right off the bat I was thinking triple, triple, triple. I didn’t think it was going to go out at all. When I saw the umpire [twirl], I got hyped. It got crazy.”

That chased Campbell, who allowed five hits and five runs (two earned) and struck out three.

After his initial inning, Benner got in a groove and with the help of some fine infield play cooled off the Colonels. Benner retired 10 straight starting with the final batter of the third inning. Half of those came on ground balls and included fine plays by third baseman Alec Rudolph and shortstop John Rosa.

“They played their hearts out and did great,” Benner said of his fielders.

The hardest hit ball came from designated hitter Hayden Cunningham, who lined a bullet through the box that Benner speared in self defense.

“It scared me,” Benner said. “When it was hit, I just threw my glove up and then it was in my glove.”

Millbrook tacked on two insurance runs in the sixth against reliever Jacob Bell, who beat the Pioneers earlier in the season on a three-hitter. Madagan reached on an infield hit, stole second (after he was picked off) and scored on an error. Hartigan, a pinch-runner who also stole a base when picked off, scored the final run on a wild pitch.

Moore finally broke Benner’s hex, leading off the seventh with a single down the line at third. Benner recovered, getting a strikeout and two groundouts.

“The last four innings, I just handled their chanting,” Benner said. “[Them] getting loud made me want to get going and push through it.”

Ballenger and Madagan led the Pioneers’ seven-hit attack with two hits apiece.

— Contact Walt Moody at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Follow on Twitter @WinStarSports1