David Driver is a native of Harrisonburg, Va., and played baseball (bad field, no hit) at Turner Ashby High School and Eastern Mennonite College (now University). He graduated from EMC in 1985 with a degree in English, and a minor in journalism. He has lived in the Washington, D.C. area for more than 20 years and has covered sports in the region for weekly and daily newspapers. He has covered NFL, MLB, NBA, college football and basketball and high school sports during that time. He has been the sports editor of Laurel (Md.) Leader and Baltimore Examiner.. More >>
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Nats' Jordan makes quick rise

By David Driver
Used with permission

courtesy of Florida Today Florida Today

July 4, 2013

WASHINGTON — Taylor Jordan sat in front of his locker in the spacious Washington Nationals clubhouse, wearing white baseball pants, a red shirt and a Nationals hat.

He was checking his phone messages nearly three hours before game time Tuesday, sitting in the cubicle beside major league veteran and fellow pitcher Ross Detwiler and key reserve Steve Lombardozzi.

The right-hander was a long way from his Merritt Island roots, both in terms of geography and baseball environment.

While not invited to major league camp in spring training, Jordan began the season at high Single-A Potomac, went 7-0 with a 0.83 ERA in nine games (eight starts) for Double-A Harrisburg and then on Saturday made his major league debut, starting on the road against the New York Mets for Washington.

“I overdid my goal by a lot,” said Jordan, 24, a former standout at Brevard Community College who also played at Indian River CC. “I was hoping to get a September call-up. I ended up getting here before the All-Star break. It is way over what I thought would happen this year.”

The magical ride is slated to continue today, when Jordan will make his first home start, facing the last-place Milwaukee Brewers in the nation’s capital in an 11:05 a.m. start.

But after that, it may be back to the minors for Jordan. Washington manager Davey Johnson said Tuesday that veteran right-hander Dan Haren is on track to come off the DL and start July 8 or 9.

“I made it here doing the stuff I am doing,” said Jordan, who is staying at a hotel for now. “I am not going to slack off. If I stay, I stay.”

Jordan allowed three runs (just one earned) in 41⁄3 innings while getting the loss against the Mets.

Washington centerfielder Denard Span, who grew up in Tampa, said Jordan came up and introduced himself before Saturday’s game. But it was not that Jordan was star-gazing — he was hungry.

“We pointed him in the direction of the cafeteria,” said Span, with a smile.

On the mound Jordan did not appear to be fazed by his Big Apple surroundings.

“He looked calm. I could not tell he was making his first start,” Span said. “He was not even in big league spring training. He has a lot of promise.”

Jordan became the third pitcher promoted from Double-A Harrisburg — and skipping Triple-A Syracuse — to the Nationals this season. Nathan Karns made three starts for Washington before being sent down to Harrisburg, while reliever Ian Krol has an ERA of 1.42 after his 11th big league outing Tuesday in a 4-0 loss to the Brewers.

“He uses his changeup very well,” Krol said.

Jordan began this season as the No. 17 prospect in the Washington system, according to MLB.com. He was drafted in the ninth round in 2009.

“I got (the debut) out of the way. My nerves are out the door now. I am starting to get comfortable here now,” he said.

Jordan said pitching in New York did not faze him. “It is all new to me. It doesn’t matter if it was away or home,” said Jordan, who left 20 tickets for family and friends, including his parents, at the Saturday game.

The 6-foot-3 right-hander said veteran Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche told him he may have been tipping his pitches against the Mets.

“It is good advice for me since I am starting. Hitters are going to see me a lot,” he said. “I am going to test it out (today).”

And he will do it featuring a four-seam fastball, sinker, slider and circle change.

“You have to work both sides of the plate. If you mix it up, they don’t know what is coming,” he said of big league hitters.

Johnson said on the Nationals’ radio network that Jordan asked him for a game ball prior to facing the Mets. The skipper got a laugh out of that and told Jordan to go ask pitching coach Steve McCatty.

Jordan said it is a dream come true to make the majors with the team that trains in Viera, not far from his home.

“It is definitely a lot easier to go to spring training. I just have to drive there. I just go back to my house” after workouts, he said.

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Down by 20, Drexel rallies at George Mason

February 1, 2013

By David Driver
For the Daily News
Used with permission

Fairfax, Va. - The fiery Bruiser Flint was at his best Thursday night, when at times it appeared he would blow a gasket.He got a warning from one referee about a possible technical, screamed at all-league guard Frantz Massenat during a timeout and sat on a table in front of the Drexel radio announcers so they could barely see the action.

And that was all in the first half, when Flint could hardly believe what he was seeing as his team fell behind by 20 points. But it was Mason that was left stunned as Drexel, which trailed by 13 at halftime but came back in the second half and beat the Patriots, 58-54, in front of a stunned crowd of 4,365 in a Colonial Athletic Association contest.

Damion Lee hit a three-pointer with 22.2 seconds left to break a 54-54 tie and, after Mason threw the ball away, Lee hit a free throw with 2 seconds left to account for the final margin in a game in which the Dragons made 16 turnovers and hit just four of 16 three-point shots. The Dragons missed nine of their first 10 shots and did not get a field goal until midway through the first half.

"I don't want to say where [the comeback] ranks. But we have not done anything like that" this season, said Flint, whose team had lost its last four games at Mason. "We have lost some huge games here. It has been a house of horrors."

"This is not an easy environment to play in," said Lee, who had 20 of his game-high 29 points in the second half. "Coach said at halftime they were beating us because they were more physical. We came together as a team in the second half."

Drexel (9-12, 5-4 CAA) trailed 33-13 with 3:45 left in the first half before battling back, and Lee hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it 38-25 at the break.

"He is a terrific player," Mason coach Paul Hewitt said of Lee, who played all 40 minutes.

"We can't give him any open looks," said Mason guard Sherrod Wright, who had 15 points. "He got going with that shot at the end of the first half."

The Dragons outrebounded Mason (12-9, 5-4) by 26-12 in the second half and had 14 offensive rebounds in the game, which led to second-chance shots. Derrick Thomas had 12 points for the Dragons, Dartaye Ruffin had 10 rebounds and Daryl McCoy had seven boards.

Mason sophomore starter Erik Copes, from Imhotep, had three points and six boards.

In a season of injuries, Drexel standout junior guard Massenat came up limping and favoring his right ankle late in the first half. He returned and played 32 minutes with seven points and four assists. "I will be fine," he said on the way to the team bus, about 30 minutes after the buzzer.

Early in the second half, Flint caught an errand pass by Ruffin and bounced the ball hard three times as Mason fans behind the Drexel bench hollered for a technical, which somehow never came all night to the demonstrative Flint.

"I was getting ready to throw the ball back on the court," Flint said later, with a smile.

But the best comeback was by the Dragons, who escaped a "house of horrors" with a win. They return to action Saturday at Northeastern (13-8, 8-1).

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