By Owen Gotimer
Leesburg (April 18, 2017) — Heritage High School senior starter Cameron Taylor used a 10-strikeout performance to lead the Pride past Conference 21B-rival Loudoun County High School, 3-2, on April 17 in Leesburg.
“He was working ahead of most hitters,” Heritage head coach Ryan Price said. “He was just filling up the strike zone, mixing it up with the breaking stuff and just overpowered some guys tonight with his fastball.”
“Cameron was pumping it up a little bit tonight,” Price said. “Once we saw that we were able to climb a little bit and get guys swinging through it, it made it a little easier to keep calling high fastballs.”
Heritage pushed across all the runs they needed in the third as senior first baseman Nate Craner and senior catcher Kyle Gotimer hit back-to-back RBI singles, before senior designated hitter Alex Feldner grounded out to drive in the Pride’s third run of the inning to take a 3-0 lead.
“Getting runners on is huge. That’s been our goal all year: hit, hit, hit. But obviously you have to piece hits together. One hit an inning isn’t going to get it done,” Gotimer said. “When I got up there with runners on, I was just thinking backside. It worked out, and Colin [Shea] was able to get around.”
All three of the runs Loudoun County junior starter James DeProspero allowed were unearned as a shaky Raiders’ defense allowed two Pride batters to reach on errors in the third.
“You got to rely on your defense,” Loudoun County head coach Nick Price said. “James isn’t a guy who’s going to go out there and strike out 15 guys. He’s going to go out there and work the zone, and our defense has to make plays behind him.”
On the other hand, Heritage’s defense and pitching success went hand-in-hand, as Taylor took a perfect game into the fourth inning, surrendering his only two hits of the game in the fourth.
“I located my fastball well, especially on the inner half,” Taylor said. “I kept them off balance with my curveball and changeup.”
The first Raider hit came off the bat of senior centerfielder Ryan Askew, who hit a bloop single to lead off the fourth inning. Then, on a hanging change up, Loudoun County junior shortstop Will Schroeder parked a two-run home run over the left field fence, to trim Heritage’s lead to one.
“It’s the spark that we needed,” Nick Price said. “But Taylor had his good stuff working early. I’ll give credit to my guys. They wore him down and got his pitch count up. But it was too late, he was effective tonight. Hats off to him.”
In Schroeder’s next plate appearance, the Pride elected to intentionally walk the North Carolina-commit. Just two pitches later, on a fastball away, Gotimer threw Schroeder out trying to steal second base.
“Schroeder is a dominant hitter. He puts the bat on the ball all the time and hits it hard every time he puts the bat on it. He’s tough to pitch to. So we went with the intentional walk in his last at-bat,” Gotimer said. “We saw him creeping so we threw over. Then he kept creeping. I got a fastball on the outside half of the plate and just went after him. I made a good throw, Kyle [Howard] made a good tag, and we were able to get the job done.”
Heritage entered freshman closer Dylan Saale to shut down any inkling of a Loudoun County chance in the seventh, capped by Gotimer catching another runner to end the game.
The loss — plus a win against Dominion on April 18 — pushed Loudoun County to 4-2 in Conference 21B.
With the win over the Raiders, Heritage improved to 4-1 in Conference 21B and has a week full of non-conference match ups before resuming Conference 21B play on April 28 against Rock Ridge in Leesburg.
“It’s a very competitive league. Every single team is in it. Everyone is going after each other,” Ryan Price said. “As the standings start to wind down, we certainly want to have the target on our backs.”
|Cameron Taylor W||6||92||2||2||2||10||1|
|Dylan Saale S||1||10||1||0||0||1||0|
|James DeProspero L||4||61||3||3||0||5||1|