By Owen Gotimer
Viva Loudoun College Editor
Ashburn (June 8, 2014) – Stone Bridge High School sophomore Lawton Riggs made his name heard around Loudoun County after earning the win over Freedom High School in his first ever varsity start as the Bulldogs knocked off the Eagles, 2-1, in the VHSL 5A North region championship game in Ashburn on June 6 claiming the baseball program’s first ever region title.
“Lawton Riggs is an unbelievable story,” Stone Bridge head coach Sam Plank said. “We pulled him up from the JV at the end of the season and his first varsity start was the regional championship game. You have to take your hats off.”
Riggs – who went 5.2 innings allowing just one unearned run while striking out five Freedom batters – did not hide the fact that nerves were running through him throughout his first varsity start.
“I was nervous, and, to be honest, very nervous,” Riggs said. “My coaches supported me and my players supported me and they said they had my back so that’s all I needed. It feels great. It’s good to know that there’s more to come, I’m still pretty young and I’m glad for that.”
After allowing Freedom junior designated hitter William Sullivan to plate senior right fielder Tyler Parnell via a sacrifice fly in the second inning, Riggs settled down allowing just three hits over his next four innings.
In the top of the sixth, Riggs was lifted for sophomore southpaw Brett Kreyer who earned the save after going 1.1 in the one run game.
“[Kreyer’s] our go-to guy now. He’s 7-0 with a save now,” Plank said.
Kreyer had to work hard in both the sixth and seventh, escaping two bases loaded jams without allowing a single run.
In the seventh, Kreyer got Sullivan to strike out swinging before senior left fielder Trent Gilmore singled to right field bringing up the top of the Eagles’ order. From there, senior shortstop Kyle Wrighte singled on a Texas-leaguer to centerfield.
Kreyer induced a ground out before intentionally walking Freedom junior catcher Garrett St. Laurent to get to cleanup batter William Roukis. Four pitches later, Kreyer got Roukis swinging to end the Eagles’ rally.
“I try not to think too much. I’ve pitched in a lot of big situations in my life, and it’s just another one of those. Just relax throw the ball, hit your spots and whatever happens, happens,” Kreyer said.
With that final strike, the Bulldogs earned their first ever region title in baseball in their first year after the VHSL realignment which placed them in the 5A North region.
“It’s a big step for the whole team, the whole program,” Kreyer said. “Our coaches have been waiting for this; we’ve all been waiting for this. I think this was our season, we had a good shot and we showed it.”
Plank credited his team’s defensive poise as reasons this Bulldogs team was able to do something, Stone Bridge teams in the past were unable to accomplish.
“They don’t ever panic. They keep playing tough. They refuse to lose,” Plank said. “Our pitching and defense have just been amazing. The thing that makes our defense so special is we have a great catcher and we have so much speed in the outfield. We get to so many balls that a lot of other teams don’t get to. They believe in what we’re teaching: getting outs and making routine plays.”
Stone Bridge will play in a VHSL 5A state semifinal on June 13 at Lake Braddock Secondary at 7 p.m. as they take on the Hickory Hawks.
“This is going to be a tough match up,” Plank said. “The thing about baseball is if make plays and you locate and get big hits, baseball anyone can get beat. The main thing is they need to go into this game believing they can win.”
Freedom will also play in a VHSL 5A state semifinal on June 13 at Lake Braddock Secondary at 3 p.m. as they take on the Douglas Freeman Rebels.
Mocabee 3-3, R, RBI
Quiceno 1-2, 2B, sac bunt
Kuzbel 1-2, RBI, sac fly
Johnson HBP, R
St. Laurent 2 BB
Roukis 1-4, ROE
Parnell 3-3, R, SB
Lerch 1-1, 2B, BB
Sullivan sac fly, RBI
Riggs W 5.2 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, BB, 5 K
Kreyer S 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
Zubovich 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER
Belinsky L 2.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, HBP, K
Wrighte .2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER
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!