By Owen Gotimer
Viva Loudoun College Editor
Purcellville (June 5, 2014) – Thanks to the offensive power of sophomore catcher Hunter Gore – who has hit two, three-run home runs in the past week – the Loudoun Valley High School baseball team overcame an early deficit to take down the New Kent High School Trojans, 13-5, in a VHSL 3A East region semifinal on June 4 in Purcellville.
“The game before I went 0-for-2. This game I was starting off 0-for-2. I wasn’t going to go 0-for again today,” said Gore who homered as part of a monster fifth inning rally for the Vikings.
Gore – who hit a three-run blast to start the Vikings’ rally in the Conference 28 title game – took some advice from Loudoun Valley head coach Wayne Todd just before his second homerun of the week.
“Hunter, right before he got up, I said ‘stay short’ because he had gotten real long,” Todd said. “He got the first pitch right where you want it to hit it out.”
As the rain started to come down, the Loudoun Valley bats started to find gaps as player after player got on base, and player after player scored.
“It was just a matter of instead of trying to get big and just yank something, just try to line drive the gap. We wanted to go gap-to-gap,” Todd said. “And now we’re running because we can run. We can fly. Up and down the lineup we only have a couple of guys who can’t run. So once we get it in the gaps, we’re going two, three bases.”
The Vikings’ initial rally got started in the third inning when senior left fielder Mikey Pugh led off the inning with a single. A few pitches later senior second baseman Brandon Grayson hit a bullet towards the right center fence scoring Pugh. Junior centerfielder Sam Urban reached on a bunt single before senior first baseman J.D. Carpenter hit a bloop single to right center.
Loudoun Valley senior right fielder Anthony Woods saw a scare in the bottom of the second inning, when he dove back to first base after the Trojans caught a fly ball to right and came up sore. However, Todd never even flinched as he put senior outfielder Danny Pugh into the line up to fill Woods’ void.
“Danny’s a starter for everybody else. He’s a starter for me: we’re just rotating him with everyone else every week. Whoever gets hot with the bat gets to play,” Todd said. “When you got a lot of good players and competition you just do the best he can. I have got complete confidence in Danny.”
In the third, Pugh and the Vikings overcame a three-run deficit to take a 5-4 lead heading into the fourth.
From there, senior ace Will Reed dominated.
“Will pitched with guts tonight. He was real tender. We didn’t know if he was going to pitch,” Todd said. “The last four days we’ve been trying to take care of his arm. Right before the game I talked to him, and he told me it was still sore, but not as bad as he expected.
“He came in here and after he got hit [in the second], he told coach Lockhart ‘I want to go back out.’ That’s what you want to hear as a coach. Sometimes you don’t have your best stuff, and that’s when you become a pitcher.”
Reed noted that after the second inning, he just threw strikes and trusted his defense to make the plays behind him.
“I just settled down and let them put the ball in play to see what the defense could do behind me,” Reed said. “Then our offense hit the ball.”
After a three-up-three-down inning in the third, the Vikings’ bats got hot, and their rally carried over again into an eight-run fifth inning, as Loudoun Valley sealed their bid to the VHSL 3A state tournament.
“I told this group at the beginning of the season that they are good enough to win the state,” Todd said. “I never tell teams they’re good. But I told them they’re really good.”
Before their run for the state title – an honor the Vikings have not taken back to Purcellville since 1972 – Loudoun Valley will play for the 3A East region title on June 6.
Grayson 2-2, 3B, 2B, BB, 2 R, 2 RBI
Urban 2-2, BB, HBP, 3 R, SB
Carpenter 3-4, 2 2B, 2 R, 4 RBI
McDyre 1-3, BB, R
Hoffmann 1-4, R, RBI
Gore 1-4, HR, R, 3 RBI
Pugh, M. 1-2, BB, 2 R, SB
Pugh, D. 1-3, R
Carpenter, S. 2-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI
Carpenter, M. 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI
Cox ROE, R
Beshay 1-3, R, 2B
Ferrell 1-2, R, 2B, HBP
Simpson 3-3, RBI, SB
Robertson HBP, sac bunt, R
Reed W 7 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 8 H, 2 HBP, 7 K
Beshai L 4.1 IP, 9 R, 7 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 2 HBP, 4 K
Cox .1 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 H, 2 BB
Pierce 1.1 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 H
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Heritage High School in Leesburg and will enter his senior year at Syracuse University this fall. Follow Owen on Twitter (@BigO_Gotimer) for up-to-date college signings and news. Contact us if you want Owen to do an article on the college commitment of your favorite local athlete or a story on a Loudoun County graduate playing in college!