Warhawks win first title since 2002
MADISON 6, CHANTILLY 5
Madison shortstop Pete Nielsen didn’t have a doubt.
He knew his cousin, junior Matt Favero, would secure Madison’s first state championship in more than a decade. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh against Chantilly in the Virginia 6A state title game in Fairfax, Favero stepped to the plate.
The junior had been sitting on the bench since the fourth inning, but with no outs and a flyball to the outfield standing between the Warhawks and a walk-off win, he delivered.
Favero drilled a one-hopper to the center field wall, driving in the winning run from third and jump-starting Madison’s celebration after a 6-5 victory at Robinson.
“I knew he was going to do it,” Nielsen said. “He’s been swinging the bat really well.”
For Nielsen and Favero, the game was the culmination of their baseball careers. They’ve played together dating from their days with the Vienna Reds tee ball team when they were each 4 years old.
“I just wanted to get it to the outfield, find a fastball or something,” Favero said. “Just drive it and score that guy from third.”
Favero was relieved after 4 2/3 innings on the mound by Nielsen after what was a disastrous fourth inning for the Warhawks. Madison (24-5) totaled five errors which led to five runs from the Chargers. Though Favero wasn’t pitching poorly, Nielsen figured a change could help his team and motioned to Coach Mark “Pudge” Gjormand to put him on the mound. Nielsen forced a groundout and held Chantilly without a run over the final three innings.
“I like to be in that spot, I’m kind of an adrenaline junkie,” Nielsen said. “I wanted to punch out that batter with two outs but our shortstop [Nick Conforti] came up big with a play.”
Chantilly (21-7) fell in the state final for the second straight year.
“Our kids, you have to give a lot of credit to them,” Chargers Coach Kevin Ford said. “We were here last year and basically lost our starting lineup. They battled through a lot over the year. It’s tough.”
Down 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth, the Warhawks scored a run in each of the final three innings to complete the comeback and earn their first title since 2002.