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Mercy! Cavs pound LHS to claim baseball crown

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Forest clinches Seminole crown with win

By Mike Forster

For those planning on a nice long night of baseball last Friday, there was only disappointment.

Jefferson Forest sent the faithful home early with a five-inning 13-1 win over Liberty.

The victory gave the Cavs the following:

-At least a share of the Seminole Crown.  Forest is 9-2, with one game remaining (Wednesday against Staunton River).  Rustburg (7-3) needs to beat Liberty and Heritage while hoping for a JF loss to 0-10 Staunton River.

-A bye in the first round of the Seminole District tournament. 

-A bye in the first round of the Region III tournament.

Even if JF and Rustburg tie for the regular season title, JF gets the top seed in the district and region tourneys via tie-breakers.  (The Cavs swept the Rusties in head-to-head competition this season).

Those perks are a mixed blessing to JF Head Coach Jim Thacker.  “It’s comforting to know that you don’t have to place in the Seminole tourney to move on (to Regionals),” he said.  “But, the thing that bothers me is that I don’t like layoffs.”

Thacker and his crew will get no sympathy from the rest of the Seminole, particularly their neighbors to the south.

Liberty pushed across a run in the first inning on John Hatcher’s RBI single.

That first inning could have yielded much more, as Liberty had the bases loaded and only one out. 

Erik Heiligenstadt, JF’s big lefty, bore down to get a strikeout and a groundout from the next two Liberty batsmen.

The Minutemen party, which included hits by Aaron Lafon and Brett Dietrich ended in that first inning.

Heiligenstadt kept Liberty hitless the rest of the way.  He struck out five and walked one in improving to 4-1.

Forest lit up the scoreboard in the second inning with three runs, picked up another in the third and struck for nine in the fourth.

Cody Carr, who has become a nifty leadoff batter, as well as a dependable shortstop, went 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs.

Bobby Shelton and Buddy Stanley were each 2-for-2 and each scored a pair of runs.  Shelton also drove home a run.

Catcher Antonio Fazio scored a pair and drove home a couple to help pile on.

JF’s Shelton and Bryan Sanderson earned the praise of Liberty Head Coach Stewart Grant.  “They put down such good bunts,” said Grant of the Cav sacrifice bunts that became hits.  “We just couldn’t make plays on them.”

Cavs take Brookville

Forest took a measure of revenge on the visiting Bees.  You might recall that Brookville hung a loss on Forest just two weeks ago.

In the rematch, it looked as though history might repeat itself, as the Bees rushed out to a 3-1 lead in the opening stanza at Forest.

Buddy Stanley was having none of that, however.  His single drove in two runs to tie the score at 3-apiece.

Cody Carr broke the stalemate when his single pushed home Neil Franklin.

Brookville, however, tied it at 4 in the top of the fifth.

JF finally locked it up in the sixth, when Franklin’s suicide squeeze scored Justin Wirt and Josh Storm’s single drove home Stanley.

Trevor Johnston, the other outstanding lefty on the JF staff, looked stronger as the game progressed.

He improved his record to 6-1 by striking out 10 Bees over seven innings.  Johnston struck out the side in the seventh to seal the win.

He scattered seven hits while walking only two (one of which was intentional).

Eagles fall to Rusties

It was the same old story for Staunton River, as the Eagles’ record dropped to 0-10, courtesy of a Rustburg drubbing.

The Red Devils prevailed 9-2, as the Eagles were done in by weak hitting and sloppy fielding.

Staunton River managed just four hits against the team that will most likely finish in second place in the district.

As Staunton River is assured of a last-place finish, it is nearly certain that the Eagles will open tournament play at the Rusties’ place.

Michael Williams absorbed the loss.  Zach Divers and Williams combined to provide the only hits for SR.

Eagle Head Coach Brian Divers seemed most perturbed by the mental errors his charges made, not the three physical ones.  “The mental part got to us once again,” he rued, citing missed assignments and ill-advised throws.  “Things like that allowed them to move up a base and, when that happens, it just puts more pressure on us and less on them.”