Leesburg (May 17, 2013) – On a night full of extra innings in the Dulles District, the Heritage Pride, backed by a Zack Hopeck one-hit shutout, knocked off their crosstown rival Loudoun County Raiders 10-0 in a shortened five inning game.
“It was typical Hopeck,” Heritage coach Ryan Price said. “He was commanding the zone, keeping his pitch counts down, getting ahead of hitters and making them take defensive swings. He gave our defense all the opportunities to make plays behind him.”
Hopeck credited his curveball and getting ahead of hitters for his success against Loudoun County whose one hit came off the bat of senior Dillon Ratty in the form of an infield single in the fifth.
The junior ace faced 18 batters, throwing first pitch strikes to 16 of them. Hopeck also threw 72-percent of his pitches for strikes, striking out six Raiders adding to his team high 74 strike outs.
On the flip side of the ball, Hopeck went 3-for-4 including two doubles and a run scored.
“I was really nervous tonight,” Hopeck said. “I was in a slump at the plate for the past four games and I did some tweeking and finally found my swing.”
The tweeking helped as one of his doubles drove in the ninth and tenth Heritage runs in the fifth inning as the Pride 10-run ruled the Raiders.
“We’ve been struggling offensively for a few weeks,” said Price, who with the win, will take his team to their second consecutive Region II tournament. “We had a week off here, and we worked very hard on the offensive part of our game this past week: seeing a lot of pitches, taking a lot of [batting practice]. I think everyone improved on that part of their game and everyone came out here and showed it tonight.”
Heritage’s win is bittersweet for Price as with the win, he knocked Loudoun County’s head coach and his little brother, Nick Price, out of the playoffs in his inaugural season as the Raiders’ front man. The younger Price knew his team was young going in and is looking forward to a more experienced lineup next season.
“We were a young team this year: a little inexperienced around the diamond,” said the first year head coach. “We need some guys to step up next year as veterans. We need to work on putting the ball in play and making teams earn their outs a little bit more. We’re just young and need to get some experience out there. If we do that we can be a pretty good baseball team.”
There is no doubt that Nick will be cheering on his older brother, on Tuesday, May 21 in Purcellville as the Pride will take on the Woodgrove Wolverines in a district semi-final matchup.