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River baseball crew wins top seed in conference

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Crouch-ing tiger, hidden dragon

By Mike Forster

 

They continue to impress.

This group of youngish Golden Eagles are making hay on the baseball diamond.

Staunton River's latest achievement was earning the top spot in the Conference 30 playoffs.  It's more than just an honorarium:  The prize includes a valuable first-round bye, the only one issued for the seven-team field.

River controlled its own destiny going into the final week of the regular season.  The Eagles faltered, at first, absorbing a 5-3 loss on the fields of Lord Bot.

But, needing to win its next two, River did exactly that, taking a pair from Alleghany.

 

Crouch-ing tiger

There are senior nights and there are SENIOR NIGHTS.  Staunton River's Travis Crouch had the latter, saving the best game of his life for his final regular-season game.  

With family and friends looking on, Crouch delivered six RBIs, going 4-for-4 and belting a home run as his team wrapped up the regular season with a 9-3 win over the Mountaineers.

That win comes on top of a narrow 6-5 win on Wednesday at Low Moor.

Should Crouch find himself on any persona non grata lists emanating out of Alleghany County, he shouldn't be surprised.  In addition to his Friday night showing, he belted a pair of hits in the Wednesday evening win over the Mountaineers.

"(Crouch) has been our best hitter all year long," said Staunton River Head Coach Brian Divers.  "He's had a really good senior year."

All the Eagles have had a good year.  The wins over Alleghany give them a regular season record of 16-4.

That mark is the most wins, ever, by a Staunton River team.   The 1977 team went 15-5.  Last year, the Eagles finished up at 15-10.

But the team seems hardly content with those 16 wins.  Any additional W's will come in playoff action.  

And the Eagles seem poised for a nice, deep run in the post-season.

The rule of thumb in high school baseball is that you need to have deep pitching and solid hitting to make such a run.

The Eagles, with Collin Watkins, Cody Shell and Crouch, have three proven fireballers, each with ice in his veins.  Additionally, Divers can call on Adam Wooldrige in relief.

A junior, Wooldrige helped save the Eagles' collective bacon in a win over Lord Botetourt early in the season.  He stymied the Cavs as his mates dug themselves out of a deep hole.

Speaking of pitching, Shell looked superb against Alleghany.  The right-handed junior went the distance, improving his record to 4-2 in the process.  

He only faced five batters above the minimum thanks to a)  The fact he didn't walk a single batter and b) Catcher David Thomas gunning down a pair of would-be base stealers.

 

Short one goal

The Eagles did fall short of one of their goals:  winning the Blue Ridge District.

Even if they'd beaten Lord Bot, they were not going to catch Northside, which waltzed off with the crown.  The Vikings finished 12-2 in district play, while the runner-up Eagles were 10-4.

Why, then aren't the Vikings the top seed in the district?

That's because, while Conference 31 is made up mostly of Blue Ridge teams, it is not exclusively so.  William Fleming departs for Conference 24, while the rest of the Blue Ridge welcomes Magna Vista  from the Piedmont.

Therefore, the seedings are based on the schools' overall records, which include a handful of out-of-district games.

In that comparison, Staunton River was a game better than were the Northsiders and, as a result, get that first-round bye, which is so valuable.