No discussion to speak of here about RVA baseball?  Well, I'll try to stir things up a bit, and invite people to comment.

I haven't seen all teams, of course, but of what I've seen and read, here are a few things:

Top teams:  Interesting to see 2 private schools really leading the pack this year.  Both were expected to be strong teams, but I'm not sure anyone predicted them dominating as they have.

St. Chris lost its # 1 pitcher from last year when Jimmy Starnes transferred to IMG in FL, but nonetheless has come back with a stronger W/L record this year than last.  Nick Biddison may be the area's top catcher -- certainly from a throwing and hitting perspective.  Patrick Rhoutsis has stepped up to provide some 5th year leadership and a lot of big innings on the mound.  Hunter Andrews has played through some minor injuries but seems to be heating up with a spate of HRs of late. 

Benedictine is just a loaded team.  Casey Green is having a great season and it seems like he's handling a huge number of innings.  The lineup hasn't really had Cal Sigler (hamstring issues), who is one of the area's faster guys and a strong bat as well, though he's working his way back now and may be 100% by playoff time.  Still, you have Greg Ryan and Jamari Baylor anchoring one  of the tougher lineups in the area, with sophomore Jack Hall contributing a handful of bombs including one walk-off HR early in the season.  Their only loss was the big event a few Saturdays back at RF&P, when St. Chris came from behind to edge them in front of a huge crowd. 

I'm hoping we'll see these two in the VISAA title game!  That'd be one not to miss.

Strong teams who've played well as expected:  Prince George and Manchester are both very deep in their lineups.  Manchester has more pitching depth.  I'd love to see those two face off.

Biggest surprise teams:  I really didn't see James River coming.  Brian Hannum should get some COY consideration.  On the flip side, Hanover's offense has struggled.  Though they can be credited with having lined up maybe the area's toughest schedule, they've fallen short in a lot of their challenge games.  James River had a convincing win at Hanover early on, and Benedictine eked out a 2-1 win earlier this week with some key plays and some bad Hanover base running in key situations.

The year of the LHP's:  Does it seem like we have more lefties having strong years than we've had in a long time, if ever?  Jacob Waltman (Matoaca), Zane Eggleston and Eli Parks (both at Manchester), Camden Lazar (Freeman), Maddison Furman (St. Chris) and Carson Jones (Deep Run) come to mind as guys who're leading their teams to strong seasons.  Will Lopez (Hanover) and Logan Ransom and Harrison Clifton (both at Steward) have also been impressive in the past but I personally just haven't gotten to see them this year.  That's like 9 strong lefties and I'm probably forgetting somebody.

Newcomer to watch:  OK folks, if you haven't seen Benedictine's Jay Woolfolk yet, make a point of it.  Son of former UR basketball standout Pete Woolfolk, Jay is the first VA freshman I've ever seen to top 90 mph on the mound, and he does so consistently.  He's worked his way into the offensive lineup, too.  Earlier this week, he closed/saved a 2-1 win over Hanover, in a game where he also went 2-2 with the go-ahead RBI and had a runs-saving lay-out catch in LF to boot.  Woolfolk was also Benedictine's # 1 varsity QB last fall (again, this is a freshman we're talking about).  You're probably going to read a lot about this kid in the fall and spring for the next 3 years.  The 2-sport thing calls Russell Wilson to mind, but even Russell wasn't a 90+ pitcher.  With any kind of progression over the next 3 years, it boggles the mind to think what this kid could become.

Original Post

Thanks for the update Midlo Dad.  I've only been able to catch a handful of innings in "the legacy Dominion district" this Spring, and it was not "entertaining"....if you catch my drift.  I'll try to make a point of seeing Woolfolk during the playoffs.  He sounds like he has quite an athletic future.  

You bring up a good point about the private schools.  I don't ever recall the best private schools (St Chris, Benedictine, Trinity, etc...) in our area having better teams than the best public schools.   A few years ago Trinity was stacked, and a couple years after that St Chris had a decent team, but those were points in time and not all of them were good at the same time.   This could be a future trend for baseball in the area.

I've seen a lot of guys moving back and forth from public to private and vice versa.  I suppose this has always gone on, but it seems to be happening more frequently, or perhaps more with the higher caliber players, these days.

2 of St. Chris's current key performers began their HS years at Monacan.  Deep Run's top pitcher transferred from Steward.  Benedictine has some former Deep Run and Godwin guys in the lineup.  Godwin has one former Benedictine guy in its lineup.

The one thing I've been noticing lately is that after a run of having several 90+ guys in the area each year, we've gone through a lull the past few years -- having maybe 1-2 per season.  Then along comes Woolfolk and while he's only 1 guy, he may make enough waves to replace several.

We're nearing the end ... VISAA is in playoffs.  Quarterfinals today, semifinals Friday, championships Saturday.  Still holding out hope for a St. Chris-Benedictine finale come Saturday.  Those last 2 days are at Shepherd Stadium in Colonial Heights, BTW.  Room for big crowds!

I also see where Manchester no hit L.C. Bird yesterday.  (Sorry, Fenway South!)  Eli Parks went  6, Zane Eggleston closed.  I suspect (but don't actually know) that Eggleston may start against # 3 James River Thursday afternoon, which would be interesting since JR actually got past him at JR earlier this season.  (Though he pitched well enough, just didn't get the run support as Skylar Petry controlled Manchester that day.)

Well, scratch a lot of that!  Benedictine stumbled yesterday, losing 1-0 in an elimination game, getting one-hit at home no less.  St. Chris did advance, but just barely, eking out a 2-1 win on a sac fly in the bottom of the 7th over Trinity.  So St. Chris moves on, but the rubber match I was hoping for this weekend won't happen.

Meanwhile, Eggleston pitched at Midlothian yesterday, so he won't be in the JR game tomorrow.  Kotula perhaps?

Thriller down at Shepherd Stadium this evening!  Collegiate and St. Chris were locked in a 1-1 tie into the 7th, as Furman and Stewart had a pitchers' duel.  With 1 on and 2 out, Nick Biddison walked it off with a towering blast that I think cleared the netting and landed on the roof of the house across the street in LCF.  I have to say, that kid hits the ball harder and more consistently so than anyone else I've seen in the area this year.  (Also has a cannon arm behind the plate; only Cougars runner to try him tonight got gunned down.)

St. Chris advances to the VISAA Div. I championship tomorrow at 6:00 against Norfolk Academy.  I didn't see their game, but apparently the two extra days the rain gave them allowed them to use the same 2 pitchers who snuffed Benedictine last Tuesday, and they did it again to Paul VI today.

Midlo Dad posted:

Thriller down at Shepherd Stadium this evening!  Collegiate and St. Chris were locked in a 1-1 tie into the 7th, as Furman and Stewart had a pitchers' duel.  With 1 on and 2 out, Nick Biddison walked it off with a towering blast that I think cleared the netting and landed on the roof of the house across the street in LCF.  I have to say, that kid hits the ball harder and more consistently so than anyone else I've seen in the area this year.  (Also has a cannon arm behind the plate; only Cougars runner to try him tonight got gunned down.)

St. Chris advances to the VISAA Div. I championship tomorrow at 6:00 against Norfolk Academy.  I didn't see their game, but apparently the two extra days the rain gave them allowed them to use the same 2 pitchers who snuffed Benedictine last Tuesday, and they did it again to Paul VI today.

Thanks for the update.  Biddison definitely impressed me when I saw him play and seems like a good kid.  Love to hear stories like the above + really glad for the young man.  Tech is getting a good one!

I don't know the boy personally, but to my understanding, he was an infielder until not too long ago.  At this point, his throwing alone makes him a great "get" for Tech, given how hard that position can be to fill.  I've only seen him in maybe 4-5 games but I can't recall any at bats where he didn't just hammer the ball.  The worst AB's I've seen are when he got under it and skied a major league fly out.  When he squares it up, the velocity off the bat is huge.  His first hit last night just about took one of the pitcher's feet with it into center field.  A line out to left threatened to take the LF's glove off when he made what was actually a pretty nice catch.  The bomb he hit was on a fastball that came in at least collarbone high, but that didn't matter.

Midlo Dad posted:

I don't know the boy personally, but to my understanding, he was an infielder until not too long ago.  At this point, his throwing alone makes him a great "get" for Tech, given how hard that position can be to fill.  I've only seen him in maybe 4-5 games but I can't recall any at bats where he didn't just hammer the ball.  The worst AB's I've seen are when he got under it and skied a major league fly out.  When he squares it up, the velocity off the bat is huge.  His first hit last night just about took one of the pitcher's feet with it into center field.  A line out to left threatened to take the LF's glove off when he made what was actually a pretty nice catch.  The bomb he hit was on a fastball that came in at least collarbone high, but that didn't matter.

Wow, sounds like he's just getting better + better.  And, that's what it's all about.  Thanks ~

I wasn't able to get there last night, but I see that St. Chris won the championship.  Biddison came out from behind the plate to close after Rhoutsis hit the pitch count limit.  Glad to see Hunter Andrews, who was hindered for the first half of the season with a back issue, complete a strong second half with a 1st inning HR that put St. Chris ahead to stay.

Midlo Dad posted:

As to public schools -- are they still playing regular season games?  Or are we into the conference tourneys now?  I'm wondering if anyone got their full allotment of 20 in this spring.

Regular season play has finished,  the conference play begins tonight.  For the Fredericksburg area teams it is conference 4A.

I'm afraid the news on any LCA games has failed to make it into print here in RVA.  Care to fill us in?  If I recall correctly, LCA is in the VHSL these days, though I forget which class they were put into.

One thing for sure, in single elimination, anything can happen.  Especially if a capable pitcher brings his A game.  (Or fails to.)

I just saw the headline 'William Byrd stuns LCA' in the paper today.  I think Byrd was below .500 this year and LCA was 17-0.  PBR said if LCA didn't win the region it would be the biggest upset this spring.  Defending 4A state champ/favorite out in the quarterfinals opens the door for somebody. 

# 1 seed Manchester got nipped at home by Franklin County yesterday.  Franklin got a hit batter, a walk and a 3-run homer right out of the gate and hung on as Manchester struggled to get runs across.  Zane Eggleston pitched well after the shaky start, and Eli Parks dominated the final two innings, but Manchester left the tying run aboard in the 7th.

That leaves the 6A regional field wide open, and if anyone is playing better than James River right now, I don't know who that would be.  They are a very solid defensive team, and they run the bases aggressively.  They can hit, but they don't just sit around waiting for the big hit.  When they get a lead, they tack on runs.  Skylar Petry has had a tremendous season, so it'll come down to whether their # 2 guy can keep them alive through the single elimination.

Another Roanoke area #8 knocked out a #1.  Northside upsets Tunstall in the 3D regional which just helps out Abingdon who is the actual favorite with a couple of the top kids in the state in Cade Hungate (FSU) who gave up 1 hit in 4 IP and Thomas Francisco (ECU) who knocked in a bunch of runs vs Christiansburg. 

Thanks to a last-minute move back of the starting time for the evening game, I was able to see all of two games yesterday.

The 4:30 game had Franklin County visiting Cosby.  Franklin's pitcher really didn't seem to have much, but he didn't walk but maybe 1-2 guys, no errors were made, and Cosby had a bad day for hitting "at 'em balls."  It took a 2-out bloop hit in the 2nd or 3rd inning to give Cosby a 1-0 lead going to the 6th.  Devin Miles pretty much had the game in hand, allowing only one hit to that point and Franklin helped by getting 3 guys thrown out on the bases.  First pitch of the 6th produced a routine grounder to the second baseman, who had so much time that he tried to baby his throw and ended up going 15 feet over the first baseman's head.  After a wild pitch, an infield dribbler found its way through the drawn-in infield to tie it up. 

Bottom of 7, Mason Maurer drilled a hard single to LF, but the LF let the ball go between his legs, allowing Maurer to reach third.  Joey May popped up his squeeze bunt, but it managed to land just beyond the reach of Franklin's diving pitcher for the 2-1 win.  The entire game was played in maybe 85 minutes.

The 7:00 game of Thomas Dale at James River brought a surprise in that, with this being both the state tourney qualifier and an elimination game, JR had Skylar Petry eligible but never used him.  TD took advantage as Cole Garrett led off the game by drilling a double to the LF corner and Tyler Bailey followed with a HR for an immediate 2-0 lead.  After a Sam Reid HR tied it up, Garrett homered in his second time up and TD never trailed again.  JR used three arms and Petry never even warmed up; I don't know if he was just still tender from his start last Thursday or what.  Garrett finished 3-for-3 with 2 walks to lead TD to what I thought was a pretty big upset, given how JR has been playing.  Jennings (sorry I don't know his first name) threw a very fine complete game for TD.

Went to Godwin yesterday for both games.  Arrived top 2nd only to find that Deep Run was already up 9-1.  Apparently just about everything that could go wrong for Freeman had already gone wrong, and it only got worse from there.  When the 5th ended and Freeman took the field for the top of the 6th, I realized the slaughter rule was not in effect for the playoffs.  I couldn't stand to watch the last two innings, so I took a dinner break!

Now, the second game was a different animal, as Atlee and Prince George engaged in a dogfight that wasn't decided until a walk-off RBI double in the bottom of the 7th as PG won, 6-5.  The first game was afflicted by rain but it didn't bother this one, and the field played reasonably well, maybe 1-2 bad hops and 1-2 bad throws (wet balls).

Jonathan Walton has been out for weeks but he tried to come back for this one, at least to pitch (but not hit).  He had an easy first inning, but then ran into tough sledding and had to leave after giving up 3 in the 2nd.  From there on out, Forbes threw a really nice game for PG, allowing his team to stay tight until they finally got over the hump at the very end.  For Atlee, Jewell came out firing gas but Tevin Tucker blooped a single over 1B, stole 2nd on the next pitch, made it to third when the catcher's throw got loose, then took home on a PB.  PG continued to exploit problems Atlee's starting catcher had both holding on to the ball and throwing to bases, as they managed to get the score to 5-3 their favor on only 3 scored hits (one of which should've been a sac bunt with a throwing error). 

Jon Kish took over for Jewell with no outs in the third, which I thought was really a bit of a panicky move as Jewell was throwing well but really getting hurt by his receiver.  Kish threw very well into the 7th.  He also benefited from Atlee's change of catchers in the 4th, as that calmed down PG's running game quite a bit.  Key plays included PG wiggling out of a bases-loaded situation after tying it up when a squeeze bunt was popped up, creating an inning-ending double play in the top of the 4th.  In the bottom of that same inning, an E4, a walk and an E9 (dropped routine fly ball) loaded the bases for PG with the 2-3-4 guys coming up with no outs, but Kish K'ed Tucker and Peterson, then got Starke to ground into a force out to end the threat without damage.

It stayed 5-5 until the bottom of the 7th.  Kish had walked the 9 hitter and he reached 3rd with only 1 out in the 6th, but again got Tucker and Starke (walking Peterson in between) to escape again.  The 7th was not as kind.  After hitting Jacob Farrar to lead off the inning, Kish was replaced; I don't know the reliever's name, but he was a righty submariner.  A WP put Farrar on 2nd, and the next batter, Kozen, drilled a double to the wall in left to walk it off.  It as Kozen's second double on the night, and in fact he had the only 2 hard hits PG had in the entire game.

Giving a shout-out to my old school, Central of Lunenburg.  From 1984-1994 the Chargers won 2 A state titles and were runner-up 3 times.  Since 1994 we have not been to a regional championship game or the state tournament.  A 1-0 loss at Riverheads in the 1B region final sends us to 1A champ Northumberland Tuesday I think. I did not get to see the game but heard it was well pitched and well defended.  In the bottom of the 7th, a Riverheads runner was called out by the 2B ump, but somehow the 3B ump over-ruled that call and the kid eventually came around to score.  Apparently there was a collision after the tag and the ball hit the ground.  Needless to say the Charger faithful were not too happy about that.  Hopefully we can put some runs on the board Tuesday and get to Radford. 

 

In other local non-RVA news, Chatham HS whooped Appomattox 17-8 in the 2C championship game.  Chatham ends up 19-2 and they can really hit.  They host Tazewell Tuesday night. 

Here are the state tournament quarterfinal games that are scheduled to be played in the greater Richmond area -- all on Tuesday:

4:30  Western Branch at Cosby (Class 6)

5:00  Stuarts Draft at Goochland (Class 2)

6:00 Maury at Deep Run (Class 5)

6:00 Jamestown at Dinwiddie (Class 4)

6:00 Spotsylvania at Hopewell (Class 3)

When you get the the six Final Four groupings, Classes 5 and 6 are holding their games in the area.

Class 5 has its semifinals Friday at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. , at Glen Allen High School.  Deep Run and Prince George could conceivably play at 10 a.m.  There are no Richmond-area teams feeding into the afternoon game. 

Class 5 Championship is 10 a.m. Saturday at Deep Run High School.

In Class 6, both the semifinals and the finale are at Deep Run.  Friday semi's are at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Cosby and Thomas Dale could conceivably play at 10 a.m.  There are no Richmond-area teams feeding into the afternoon game.

Class 6 Championship is Saturday at 2:00 p.m. 

I wish VHSL had staggered those semifinal games.  I would've loved to have played hookey and watched all four, driving back and forth.  The two venues are only about 6 miles apart.  Would've loved to have seen games at 10:00, 12:30, 3:00 and 5:30.  But I guess that runs the risk of running afoul of afternoon storms.  With the 10/2 schedule, play might get done before that time of day, or even if delayed, could get done.

Headed down to Chatham HS to see what had hoped to be a Class 2 pitcher's duel between Tazewell's Sidney Willis (125k/65ip) and Andrew Potojecki (Longwood).  Unfortunately Willis did not look good when he took the mound in the bottom of the 1st and after about 8 pitches he gingerly eased out to rf holding his back.  The wind kinda went out of the THS sails and it was 11-0 after 4.  CHS has a very solid line-up 1-9 and they banged out 17 hits that included a couple of perfectly placed bunts, a couple bloops and bleeders, and a whole bunch of shots.  The final was 13-4.  Potojecki gave up 3 hits and a run while whiffing 8 in 5 IP and I assume kept his pitch count low enough to go Saturday.  They next play Virginia HS out of Bristol in Pulaski.  I think Chatham wins this Class no problem. 

And it was not a good day for my Lunenburg Chargers who lost 7-0 to Northumberland.   

Deep Run and Prince George both won yesterday, so they will face off Friday at 10 a.m. at Glen Allen in the first of two Class 5 semifinals.

Cosby got a leadoff double that led to an early run, but never got another hit as it fell to visiting Western Branch.  A 2-out passed ball in the 4th let WB tie it, and the 5th became a full-on defensive meltdown with a routine grounder slow-played into a "hit," errors, passed balls, slow-played DP balls turned into only one out with another error on the throw, etc.  As the inning got long, WB got its one solid hit off Cosby's Devin Miles, and made it count as it was a no-doubter HR.  Contrary to the RTD report, all 5 runs off Miles were unearned.  WB tacked on 2 more in the 7th but that didn't matter as WB's pitcher threw a tremendous game and Cosby's offense remained anemic.

Thomas Dale did advance, so they will play WB at 10 a.m.  Friday at Deep Run.  So unfortunately, you can see one of those two games, but not both -- though I don't know if VHSL is web casting this year.  Anyone?

Prince George beat Deep Run, 7-3.  I'll write up a longer report on that game when I can.

Couldn't be in 2 places at once, so I haven't seen the outcome of the Thos. Dale-Western Branch game.  I heard someone say it went to extra innings.  If anyone knows the outcome, please post.

There was a very chatty lady handling ticket sales at Glen Allen this morning, resulting in there being a huge line backed up at first pitch for the Deep Run-Prince George game.  Kudos to the supervisor who came to the rescue, opening up an "exact change" line that got us all there without missing but the first few batters.

It was an interesting game in that neither side seemed to have a dominant arm on the hill, and both teams mounted early rallies that made you think it was going to be a mutually high-scoring affair.  But that's not how it turned out at all.

PG had the better record but drew the visitors position due to its having lost to DR in the regional finale.  PG's first batter got plunked, bunted to second, then singled to third.  Jacob Farrar sac flied in the leadoff man and Kozen lined a double to the wall to make it 2-0.  In the bottom of the first, DR's first two hitters lined a single and a double to make it 2-1 quickly.  But from there on out, lefty starter Hunter Carden settled in.  He was never throwing terribly hard, but he consistently nipped the edges of the zone with his fastball, he used his curve probably half the time or more, and he kept the ball out of the middle of the plate. 

A grounder that should've ended the bottom of the first easily got booted.  The bases would've been loaded with 2 outs, but DR's runner from 2nd rounded 3rd and headed home.  2B recovered in time to get him there and end the threat.  Carden struck out the side in the 2nd and went K, 1-3, K in the 3rd.  Meanwhile PG got a 2-out RBI hit from Sippio in the 2nd to make it 3-1.

No one scored in the 3rd, 4th or 5th.  Carden gave up a booming double to Nick Noonan in the 4th but started a 1-6-3 inning-ending DP to escape.    After a one-out single and walk in the 5th, PG went to Jonathan Walton in relief.  As many of you know, JW has battled arm trouble this year and he clearly still does not have his best stuff, but he definitely has the toughness for these situations.  He threw 2 pitches in the 5th.  The first went for a bunt hit to load the bases.  The second was hit directly at SS for a 6-6-3 DP as PG escaped yet again.  That may have been the key play in the game.

Against DR reliever (I think his name was Brach), PG got 2 big runs top 6th.  Michael Peterson tripled to the wall in left center, scored on a single by Hatcher, who later scored on a single by Cooper.  That made it 5-1.  PG needed those runs, because DR got 2 itself in the bottom of the inning.  Carson Jones blooped a single over SS, stole 2nd, and scored on a hit by Noonan.  After a grounder into a force out, an E6 kept the inning alive.  JW got another grounder into a force out, but the 9 hitter, catcher Larson, singled in DR's third run.  

PG got breathing room with 2 more runs in the top of the 7th.  After Tucker walked, Eli Weisner relieved Brach, but he walked Starke, moving Tucker to 2nd.  Tucker then stole third and took home when the catcher's throw sailed into LF.  After 2 K's and a walk, an E6 allowed the last run to score.  In the bottom of the inning, JW got three ground outs, albeit with a Weisner double in between, to close the deal.

So, PG advances to tomorrow's championship game.  I understand Forbes may be eligible to start, though I'm not sure who would be in relief if needed.

 

Add Reply

Likes (0)
×
×
×
×