Bull­dogs send Plank out a win­ner

STONE BRIDGE 9, MAR­SHALL 4

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY JA­COB FELD­MAN ja­cob.feld­man@wash­post.com

Stone Bridge cap­tain Tan­ner Karafa was cov­ered in dirt and his coach, Sam Plank, was soaked with Ga­torade, but nei­ther seemed to mind.

The Bull­dogs wanted to rel­ish the mo­ment fol­low­ing their 9-4 victory over Mar­shall in the Vir­ginia 5A base­ball ti­tle game Satur­day at Robin­son.

The pair em­braced in the in­field to cel­e­brate the school’s first base­ball ti­tle. “We just shared a spe­cial mo­ment,” Karafa said. “Al­most ev­ery day in the locker room, dur­ing ev­ery post­sea­son prac­tice, we talked about how bad we wanted this.”

Plank’s im­pend­ing de­par­ture to River­side High was not talked about openly dur­ing the team’s tour­na­ment run. But the play­ers knew how they wanted Plank to fin­ish his 15-year run as the school’s first and only base­ball coach. Plank’s line to them was sim­ple: He would re­main their coach un­til the fi­nal pitch. And what a fi­nal pitch it was. A day af­ter Brett Kreyer ad­vanced the Bull­dogs (23-5) to the fi­nal with a one-hit­ter, ju­nior David Mo­cabee de­liv­ered an­other com­plete game. He sur­ren­dered a two-run home­run to Will Brooke in the sec­ond in­ning, but gave up just two more runs the rest of the way. One of those came on Brooke’s sec­ond homer of the day.

“[Mo­cabee] made a cou­ple bad pitches, but you know what, he re­fo­cused and that’s what tough kids do,” Plank said. “He just bat­tled the whole game. He wouldn’t letme take him out.”

Mean­while, the Stone Bridge of­fense re­lied on depth, as it has all year. Mo­cabee got things started with a sac­ri­fice fly in the bot­tom of the first in­ning and later added an­other RBI. Michael Kuz­bel led the team with three RBI, in­clud­ing two in the bot­tom of the sixth that turned a 4-3 lead into a 6-3 ad­van­tage.

Coach Aaron Tarr said the States­men (21-7) had given all it had the pre­vi­ous night to come back against Hick­ory. The loss ends the Mar­shall ca­reer of 5A North re­gion player of the year Mitch Black­stone, who went 3 for 4. Tarr called him “the best high school base­ball player I’ve ever been around.”

Af­ter the fi­nal out, the Bull­dogs piled up be­tween sec­ond and third base. One of Plank’s as­sis­tants turned to the head coach and said, “Are you go­ing to go out there with them?”

“No,” Plank re­sponded, “this is their mo­ment.”

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