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This is the time of year when big wins are a must.
That's why it's encouraging that all three county baseball teams have come up with such big wins lately.
River on fire
Staunton River may have had the biggest win of the lot. The Golden Eagles took care of visiting William Byrd, 5-3, behind the inspired play of its group of seniors.
The win did the following:
-Dropped the Blue Ridge District-leading Terriers to 6-2, allowing Lord Botetourt to tie them for the lead.
-Gave Staunton River its tenth (overall) win of the year, meaning the team hit what had been thought to be an audacious start-of-season goal. A win over Liberty on Monday night made it 11 wins.
-Gave the Golden Eagles a district mark of 4-5, locking them into a home appearance in the district tourney's opener (probably against Northside).
Suddenly, the Eagles are one hot commodity. Once the doormats of the district, they are throwing around some heft these days.
In the win over William Byrd, it was fitting that River's seniors came through. That's because it was also Senior Night.
Front and center was the job that Mitchell Hullett did on the mound. The hard-throwing senior yielded two hits over six-plus innings.
Seniors Matt Daniels and Paul Williams each had key hits. Senior Brett Stevens had a huge play in left field, running down what appeared to be a sure hit to ground out Byrd's dreams of a comeback.
River carried a 5-0 lead into the seventh, before Byrd loaded the bases. Hullett yielded to Cody Shell. After an infield error made it 5-2, Shell coaxed a groundout (though it scored another run) and a pop out to Jake Divers at second base to end the game.
"We didn't make it easy," sighed Head Coach Brian Divers after the game. "We got tight in that last inning, but the seniors stepped up."
Divers pointed to good discipline at the plate, resulting in fewer strikeouts as one of the keys to his team's success. That success has them reaching for a trip to regional play.
JF in the hunt?
Of course, the biggest game was just played this past Tuesday night, when Jefferson Forest took on undefeated Amherst for a share of the Seminole crown. Regrettably, this newspaper is printed on Tuesday afternoon, so the outcome of that contest is unknown as we go to press with this edition.
Still, the Cavs headed into that one hotter than a two-dollar pistol. The men in red and black beat the stuffing out of Heritage as a prelude.
Cal Hodgert and Cameron Byrd set the tone. Hodgert mauled a two-run tater and Byrd nailed a solo shot in the first inning as the Cavs rang up five runs in that stanza. When the bloodletting was finally over, the scoreboard was full of burned out light bulbs. What was left was able to spell out JF 19, Heritage 1.
The Cavs, whose bats have been running hot and cold this year, were anything but chilly. They knocked around 20 hits. So, a score of hits resulted in a score minus one of runs.
Jon-Ryan Breeden, the crafty lefty, took the win over his former Pioneer teammates, improving his record to 7-1 for the season, while lowering his ERA to 1.05.
It was a far cry from a month ago, when JF squeaked out a 4-3 win over these same Pioneers. In fact, there were some who made the argument that Heritage should have won that April game. Those taking that position were in a state of silence after Friday's beating.
Liberty may have gotten its biggest win of the year when it topped Glass. Even though the Hilltoppers seem destined to finish in last place in the district, their one victory this year came over Liberty, early on in the season.
This time, the Minutemen were the visitors. This time, it was the Glaziers who played the role of accommodating hosts.
And it was Will Grant who was the man for the Minutemen. The junior righty picked up the win as the Glaziers were only able to muster five hits for the night.
Liberty, too, was only able to get five, but the M-Men managed to be more timely with their bats. Notable were productive at-bats from Austin Porter, Lance Parker and Hunter Witt.
As a result, Liberty stands 4-7. A win Wednesday night over Amherst would be unlikely. But it would push the Minutemen into a home game when Monday's districts begin.