By Owen Gotimer
Purcellville (May 30, 2015) – For the first time at Loudoun Valley High School’s new baseball field, a varsity home run sailed over the fence. On May 29 in the Conference 28 championship, Viking junior catcher Hunter Gore trotted around the bases along with two teammates after his monster three-run home run, taking an early lead in what would turn out to be a cruise-to-victory win for Loudoun Valley, 9-0, over John Champe High School.
“I was pretty relaxed at the plate, just trying to get the runs in the best I could,” Gore said. “It wasn’t square off the barrel, but there was a little muscle behind it, so I’ll take it.”
Gore – who hit the go-ahead two-RBI double just two nights before in the Vikings 2-1 win over William Monroe in a Conference 28 semifinal – gave his team some early offensive momentum in the conference title game as seven different Vikings scored throughout the night.
“It feels pretty great. I’m just trying to do my job as a team player,” Gore said. “We haven’t been scoring a lot lately. Runs are what we need right now. Our defense and pitching will back us up.”
And the Vikings’ pitching did not disappoint at the championship stage.
Loudoun Valley junior Justin Ager tossed six solid innings, allowing just one hit – to the John Champe leadoff batter Matt Ryan two pitches into the contest – in route to his seventh win of the season.
“That’s a really good pitching performance. He’s given us that every time out,” Loudoun Valley head coach Wayne Todd said. “I thought he had really good stuff tonight: good breaking pitch, good velocity on his fastball, a pretty dominating performance out there.”
Ager – who has made a verbal commitment to pitch at Division I Yale – struck out six Knight batters allowing only three base runners after the first inning.
“It’s all about being a team. My team backs me up 99.9-percent of the time and that .1-percent of the time, I have to be there for them,” Ager said. “I’m just glad I was able to go out there and give the Vikings the best chance of winning I could.”
Baseball: Viking @AgerJustin allows a leadoff 1B & not another hit through six! @LVHS_Jungle 9, John Champe 0 FINAL in #Conf28 championship
— LoCoSports (@LoCoSports) May 30, 2015
Ager and senior ace Jack DeGroat are a combined 15-1 this season, but in the month of May had to have their best stuff, as the Vikings’ bats struggled to produce runs.
“We need to help our pitchers relax. We go out there and score one or two runs and expect them to throw shutouts,” Todd said. “Let’s give them a little support. Tonight, we did that.”
Even with the loss, John Champe earned a berth to the VHSL 3A East region tournament where they will travel to Kettle Run High School for a quarterfinal match up on Monday, June 1 at 6 p.m.
Arguably Loudoun County’s best team, Loudoun Valley will host Culpeper County High School on Monday, June 1 at 6 p.m. in Purcellville.
“It’s great momentum going on to the region tournament,” Ager said. “The next step is to get ourselves where we want to be: Liberty, for the state tournament. Momentum is everything is baseball and this one will help.”
Bowles 1-4, R, SB
Urban 2-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, SB
Lockhart 2-3, BB, R, RBI, SB
MyDyre 0-4, 2 ROE, R, SB
Gore 1-3, HR, BB, 2 R, 3 RBI
Lohr 2-4, R
Eberhart 1-3, BB, RBI, SB
Meyer 0-1, 2 BB, R
Ryan, M. 1-2, BB
Petrakes 0-2, sac bunt
Anders 0-0, BB
Kirila 0-1, BB
Ryan, N. 0-3
Ager W 6 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 H, 2 BB, 6 K
Lohr 1 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K
Newell L 1.2 IP, 4 R, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 0 K
Schaffler 2.1 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 3 K
Able 2 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 0 K
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Syracuse University where he earned a degree in broadcast and digital journalism. Before attending SU, Owen graduated from Heritage High School in Leesburg. Follow LoCoSports on Twitter (@LoCoSports) for up-to-date news and scores from around Loudoun County.