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There was plenty of muscle flexing taking place at the Seminole District tourney championship game.
That flexing came in the form of home runs. There were buckets of ‘em. When all was said and done, it was Jefferson Forest that came away with a 6-5 win.
The vanquished Brookville Bees had nothing over which to hang their heads. Both teams put on a magnificent show.
Still, it is Jefferson Forest that marched off with the matched-set hardware. Both the regular season and the tourney trophies now sit in the JF trophy case.
While the trophies will be nice to look over, the best thing on display Saturday was the Cav grittiness and its guttiness.
Picture this: Your team waltzes into the top of the sixth inning with a 6-2 lead. Things seem comfortably in control.
Brookville’s Kevin Fitzgerald blasts the second pitch he sees for a leadoff home run.
The very next pitch, Holton Walker blasts a tater.
With that, JF brought in ace reliever Jake Kliewer. His very first offering to Jeff Maxwell was sent over the right field fence to cut the lead to 6-5.
Four pitches, three homers, two pitchers, a one-run lead.
Kliewer kept his cool. He faced Bee Willie Sligh, who hit a long fly to left where Christian Sanderson hauled it in.
The sound of relief from the JF stands was palpable. Kliewer then fanned the next two Bee batsmen.
“(After the home run) I thought I’d come back and get the next guy,” said Kliewer after the game. Like we said, Kliewer can be one cool customer.
That coolness was needed again in the seventh, and last, inning.
Leadoff Bee Travis Burnette hit a full-count fastball over the head of shortstop Cody Carr.
Travis Riley put down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Burnette into scoring position.
Dustin Maner nailed a grounder to short, with Carr nipping him at first.
So, with two out and Burnette at third, Kliewer faced the very dangerous Fitzgerald.
This time, though, the JF reliever would get the edge, getting Fitz to fly out to Mark Heidemann in left field.
“I have faith in the guys behind me,” noted Kliewer. “Just like I have all year.”
Teammates come through
This game was played for two things: that tourney trophy and, likely more important, pride.
Brookville was everyone’s choice to take the Seminole. With a superb batting order and with the guy who wound up being named Seminole Pitcher of the Year (Maxwell), there was little that seemed an obstacle to the Bees.
As it turned out, there was only one speed bump, and it wears black and red.
The Cavs handed Brookville its only losses of the season: two in regular season Seminole play and Saturday’s game.
“We came out to get that trophy,” said Carr. “This was a game to prepare us for Regions. Plus there was pride on the line.”
“Winning this is important,” said Heideman, who was named Seminole Player of the Year after the game. “Our pitchers did well, and we were hitting well up and down the order.”
When asked to assess the season so far, Heideman noted, “We were supposedly a rebuilding team.”
Then he gave a quick smile, adding, “We showed ‘em.”
-Brookville showed great power at the plate. All five of its runs came on home runs. In fact, all five of its home runs were solo shots.
-Jefferson Forest also showed some big power at the plate. Alex Bowker’s solo shot in the bottom of the second primed the pump for homers by Brookville’s Maner and Walker. Those two taters made it a 2-1 game
In the bottom of that same inning, Carr scored a run when
he doubled off the top of the right field fence. He came home on a Heideman ground-out.
-JF grabbed a 4-2 lead when Mikey Wallman launched a frozen rope just inside the left field foul pole and just over the left field fence. That homer brought home Bowker, who had reached on an error.
-What were supposedly the insurance runs came when catcher Antonio Fazio followed Kliewer’s single with a (surprise!) home run over the fence in left-center, making it 6-2.
-Rumors to the effect that Rustburg, the host site of the game, is planning to rename its field “Catapult Park” proved to be unfounded.
In all, there were eight home runs hit by the two teams, with the Bees hitting five of them.
-Jefferson Forest starter Greg Brownson picked up the win, in going five full innings. Brookville’s Sligh took the loss.
Despite all of the pyrotechnics, both pitchers looked sharp, with neither really pitching himself into trouble.
JF got a pass on Monday. That bye came with the regular-season championship. On Tuesday, the Cavs were to host Northside, the third seed from the Blue Ridge District.
The Vikings earned that game at JF via a 4-1 win over Stuarts Draft in the opener.
The winner of the JF-Northside game will play on Thursday against the winner of the Turner Ashby-William Byrd game.
Thursday’s semifinal and Friday’s final will be played at Spotswood High School.