By Owen Gotimer
Leesburg (May 26, 2016) — As Leesburg-rivals met for the third time this spring, the Loudoun County High School and Heritage High School baseball teams settled in for another whirlwind game filled with walks, balks and three different deadlocks as the Raiders finally broke free in the bottom of the sixth inning – scoring three runs on four walks – to defeat the Pride, 7-5, to win the Conference 21B championship.
“However you can get a run, you take it as you can. It just worked out in our favor,” Loudoun County head coach Nick Price said. “We were fortunate enough to get a call in our favor at the end there.”
The three late Raider runs were enough for Loudoun County super sophomore Will Schroeder who shut the door on Heritage in the form of a 1-2-3 seventh inning save. Schroeder added two hits and a pair of runs – including the game tying run in the sixth – to support the Raiders offense.
“Loudoun County finished the job in the sixth,” Heritage head coach Ryan Price said. “They got guys in good positions, and we were a little wild there putting free guys on base. They found a way to put the ball in play, and we couldn’t seal up the outs.”
The Pride and Raiders combined for 14 walks in the contest, but Heritage found themselves on the wrong end of the deal with a series of late walks which eventually cost them the game.
Loudoun County senior starter Christian McDowell, on the other hand, scattered his seven walks over the first four innings giving his team the room they needed to make a comeback.
“He didn’t have his best stuff tonight, but he didn’t lack any confidence. He came in here and knew what he needed to do,” Nick Price said. “Ultimately, we were able to battle there, and he did enough out there for us to keep us in the ball game.”
Heritage senior ace Brent Smith had another solid start for the Pride settling down after allowing two runs in the bottom of the first inning.
“I was very pleased with how we jumped out of the gates, we were up 3-0,” Ryan Price said. “It was a little shaky for both teams in the first inning: a lot of nerves and a lot of energy. We came out of the first with a 3-2 lead which I thought was a positive.”
Even with the early lead and unfortunately for Heritage, the Pride’s nine stranded baserunners – including bases loaded opportunities in the second and fourth innings – proved to be the difference in the game.
“We had a lot of chances tonight but we left a lot of guys on base and just couldn’t figure out ways to find the outfield and get the guys in,” Ryan Price said.
With the loss Heritage finishes their season, but is optimistic about 2017 as the Pride will only graduate four seniors.
“We will see what we can do better as a program and as coaches and get to work this summer to hopefully change the result of this game next spring,” Ryan Price said.
As for Loudoun County, the Raiders will travel to Salem High School on May 30 to tango with the Conference 24 No. 1 Spartans in a VHSL 4A West region quarterfinal.
“It’s been a long time here at Loudoun County,” Nick Price said. “When I took the job here, I could read all the banners in the gym and knew right where we stood. It’s a good step for our program, and we’re glad that we have a group of guys that could finish the job here, and we’re real proud of them.”
Schroeder 2-4, 2B, 2 R
Askew 0-2, 2 BB, 2 R, K
Keim 2-3, 2B, ROE, BB, 2 RBI, R
Burke 0-3, 2 K
McDowell 0-3, BB, 2 K
Kelman 1-3, BB, ROE, K, 3 RBI
Carmichael 1-3, HBP, RBI
Cicalese 1-3, BB, R, K
DeProspero 1-2, sac bunt, R
Mozeyko 0-0, BB, RBI
Baer 2-3, sac bunt, 2 SB, R
Koehler 0-4, 2 ROE, R
Keiper 0-1, 3 BB, RBI, R
Smith 1-3, 2B, BB
Schaub 0-3, BB, R, K
Gotimer 0-3, BB, RBI, K
Wahl 1-4, ROE, R
Lannes 0-4, K, RBI
Tyree 0-2, BB, K
McDowell 5 IP, 4 R, 1 ER, 2 H, 7 BB, 4 K
Mozeyko W 1 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 0 K
Schroeder S 1 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K
Smith 5 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 6 K
Taylor L 1 IP, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 H, 4 BB, 1 K