Region Roundup: VES downs Miller for BRAC championship, Lynchburg baseball advances to ODAC title game, and more (2023)

From staff reports

After falling 11-7 to talented Miller School late last month, Virginia Episcopal's baseball team got revenge Friday in the Blue Ridge Athletic Conference tournament title game in Albemarle, earning a 2-1 victory.

One day after pitching VES into the finals by allowing just two hits in Thursday's 6-2 win over North Cross in the semifinals, Jed Howard blasted a two-run homer in the third inning Friday that gave the Bishops a 2-0 lead.

Miller School scored once in the seventh and loaded the bases, but freshman pitcher Campbell Howard induced a pop-up to shortstop to end the game. Campbell Howard threw all seven innings, allowed four hits and one run (earned), walked one and struck out five.

With the win, the Bishops made school history, setting a new mark for most wins in a season. Their record now stands at 17-6.

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Jed Howard and catcher Charlie Felmlee earned first-team all-conference honors, while coach Roger Keeling was named BRAC coach of the year.

Albert Thornton and John Waterworth earned spots on the second team, and Sam Burt was an honorable mention.

VES will find out its seeding for the upcoming Virginia Independent Schools Division II state tournament on Sunday.


UL advances to ODAC championship

Lynchburg and Shenandoah split a pair of tight games in the regular season. Their first meeting of the postseason went a different way.

In a matchup Friday of the top two teams at the Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament’s championship weekend at the University of Richmond, UL’s offense rendered a litany of Shenandoah pitchers powerless on the way to a lopsided, 13-5 victory.

Shenandoah fell to the losers’ side of the double-elimination bracket as a result, but staved off elimination to set up a rematch in Saturday’s championship. Second-seeded SU sent third-seeded Roanoke packing with a 5-3 victory later in the day Friday.

Top-seeded UL and SU — which are nationally ranked fifth and third, respectively — will meet at 11 a.m. for the title. Lynchburg, in search of its 10th ODAC championship, needs just one win to capture the trophy, while SU will look to force an if-necessary second game Saturday, which would begin at approximately 2:30 p.m.

The championship will feature a well-rested Lynchburg team carrying plenty of momentum after tallying 15 hits to Shenandoah’s eight and scoring five runs in the fourth inning to win Friday.

UL sent 11 batters to the plate in the fourth and turned a 3-1 lead into an 8-1 advantage.

Shenandoah (38-6) tried to chip away by scoring two runs each in the fifth and sixth innings, but Lynchburg added five more runs to its tally before game’s end to remove all doubt.

Four players had multiple hits for UL, including three each by Eric Hiett and Benton Jones, who each doubled. Holden Fielder and Carrson Atkins had three RBIs apiece, with Atkins’ total coming thanks to one swing — a three-run homer in the fifth that upped UL’s advantage to eight runs.

The difference ultimately held after each team scored two runs across the final four innings.

For SU, 17 players took the field and eight pitchers toed the rubber.


Liberty eliminated from ASUN tournament

Second-seeded Liberty fell in 10 innings to open the day in the double-elimination ASUN conference tournament held at Stetson, then saw its stay in Deland, Florida, end in another marathon game in the evening.

The Flames (38-20) dropped their Friday opener to fifth-seeded North Alabama (34-14-1) 3-1 by surrendering the winning runs on an error, and lost to top-seeded Central Arkansas (42-10) 2-1 by giving up back-to-back hits in the 11th inning.

In the elimination game, the teams traded runs in the eighth inning. Caroline Hudson gave Liberty its lone run on her solo homer, and Mary Brown’s RBI single in the bottom half of the frame tied it.

Brown then broke through again in the 11th, when she smacked a leadoff double to center to set up Morgan Nelson’s walk-off single.

Karlie Keeney took the loss after throwing a complete game in the nightcap, and was saddled with the tough-luck loss in the earlier game after giving up two unearned runs in 4 2/3 innings in relief.

Rachel Roupe also had a solo homer on the day to account for LU’s lone run against UNA.

Teams featuring area grads bow out of ACC tourney

In Notre Dame, Indiana, both Clemson and Virginia Tech dropped their Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinal games Friday. Area products and Tigers and Hokies pitchers Millie Thompson and Emma Lemley now will wait to see what the NCAA selection committee has in mind for their teams’ continued postseason paths.

In the day’s early contest at Notre Dame, fifth-seeded Virginia Tech fell to top-seeded Florida State, 9-1.

Lemley, a Jefferson Forest grad and sophomore for the Hokies, did not play after pitching in Tech’s quarterfinal win Thursday.

The Hokies dropped to 37-18 with the loss in Friday’s matchup of top-25 teams (Tech is ranked 22nd while FSU is the nation’s third-ranked team). The Seminoles improved to 49-8.

In the second semifinal, third-seeded Clemson fell to second-seeded Duke 2-0.

Blue Devils freshman Cassidy Curd threw a complete-game no-hitter. She did not walk a batter, fanned eight and plunked two for Clemson’s only base runners on the day.

Thompson (13-3), a Liberty High product, started and went two innings before taking the loss. She gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits, did not walk a batter and struck out one.

The game featured two top-10 teams in seventh-ranked Clemson (46-9) and sixth-ranked Duke (45-9).

Clemson and Tech now will wait to see what opponents are ahead; the selection show for the 64-team NCAA championship field is set for 7 p.m. Sunday (broadcast on ESPN2).


Lynchburg 4, Myrtle Beach 3

Lynchburg Hillcats reliever Samuel Vasquez worked himself into a hole in the ninth inning Friday night. He issued back-to-back walks to put the tying and winning runs aboard for Myrtle Beach, moved those runners up on a wild pitch and then loaded the bases on another free pass.

Four pitches later, he’d found a way out of the jam. Vasquez worked ahead in the count, 1-2, then got Reivaj Garcia to ground into a force out to strand all three and pick up his second save in Lynchburg’s 4-3 victory at Pelicans Ballpark.

The Hillcats (17-14) picked up their first series win of the season with the victory, upping their win streak to four games and their series lead over the Pelicans (14-16) to 4-0.

Vasquez was one of three bullpen arms to throw at least one scoreless frame. Jack Jasiak picked up his first win by throwing 2 1/3 innings of one-hit ball in relief of starter Alonzo Richardson. Jasiak fanned one and walked one after entering in the fifth inning.

By then, the Hillcats held a 2-1 lead, before relinquishing it on Reginald Preciado’s sac fly and Reivaj Garcia’s RBI double.

The hosts pulled ahead 3-2 for the third of the game’s fourth lead changes.

But Lynchburg had the final word in the sixth, when it capped the scoring on Juan Benjamin’s two-out, two-run single.

Runners stood at second and third for Benjamin (2 for 5) following a leadoff walk and Nate Furman’s two-out single.

Furman (2 for 3) reached base four times, after being called out on strikes in the game’s first at-bat.

Furman, Benjamin and Wuilfredo Antunez (3 for 5, double, triple) combined for seven of Lynchburg’s nine hits as the 1, 2 and 3 batters. Benjamin and Antunez had two RBIs each.

Furman also tallied three stolen bases (he was the only Lynchburg runner to swipe a bag Friday) to drive the team’s minor league-leading total up to 100 on the season.

Andy Garriola gave Myrtle Beach its other run on an RBI double in the fifth, and Moises Ballesteros led the Pelicans at the plate by going 2 for 4. Reliever Dominic Hambley blew the save and took the loss in his 2023 debut. He gave up two earned runs on two hits, walked four and fanned five in 2 2/3 innings.

Game 5 is set for 6:05 p.m. Saturday.



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