Seminole stunners: County baseball roundup

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By Mike Forster

Translated from German, the name Heiligenstadt means ?holy city.? Around Seminole baseball diamonds, the name Forslund means ?holy smokes.?

While Rustburg?s Blake Forslund had his heater working for him, it was Jefferson Forest?s Erik Heiligenstadt who had folks at the Forest diamond exclaiming ?holy mackerel!,? as the southpaw sophomore led his team to a 5-0 win over the visiting Red Devils.

Heiligenstadt showed superb control of his pitch repertoire. While not showing overpowering heat, he consistently hit the right spots with his off-speed and sinker/cutter to complement his fastball.

He turned in five smart innings and he put himself into a spot only once, in the third inning. But, with two on and two out, he induced Rustburg?s most dangerous hitter, Andrew Kasecamp, to fly out to Yale Burch.

In typical fashion, the Cav veteran defense did its job in support of a young pitcher, turning in an error-free game.

Forslund, as usual, was overpowering. With pitch speeds estimated to be in the 90s on the radar gun, the senior notched 8 strikeouts over the course of the evening. But, nearly every one of those strikeouts came on a 3-2 count. While that fact is a tribute to Forslund?s pitching acumen, it also equated to a high pitch count.

As a result, Forslund was pulled at the start of the sixth inning with his team behind 1-0 (tip of the hat here to the Rustburg coaching crew for taking care of a kid who will pitch at much higher levels in the future). That?s when the Cavs pounced. Josh Storm drew a walk to open against reliever Chris Walker.

Shane Timberlake?s fielder?s choice was followed up by catcher Josh Huffman and third baseman Ragan Rudisill walks to load the bases.

That set the stage for Dylan Higley?s bases-clearing triple to centerfield. Higley came home on Bobby Shelton?s sacrifice fly to left field to make it 5-0.

Higley had scored the game?s first run in the second inning, when he scooted home on an infield error.

With the win, the Cavs put themselves into position for a shot at the District regular season crown and the automatic Regional berth that comes with it. However, a 2-1 loss to Brookville on Monday night might have put a damper on their hopes.

Games against county rivals Liberty (this Friday, in Bedford) and Staunton River (Wednesday, May 14 at Forest) will be key to their chances.

Liberty stuns Heritage

Liberty gave a hand to Forest?s title aspirations when the Minutemen shocked Heritage by upending the Pioneers 7-5. More importantly, from the Minutemen?s perspective, the victory gave them a nice shot of confidence.

Four Minutemen pitchers combined to get the unexpected victory. Jon Petersen, in his first start of the season, gave up five runs to the District-leading Pioneers. Two of those runs, in the second inning were set up by a pair of Liberty errors.

But the Minutemen bounced back to knot the score at five apiece in the bottom of the second. Petersen opened the inning with an infield single, Cody Meadows earned a walk and Aaron LaFon?s picture-perfect bunt loaded the bases. That set the stage for Ethan Tanner?s shot to right-center field. The ball rolled under the Pioneer fielder?s legs, and three runs scored.

?That big hit gave us life,? commented Head Coach Stewart Grant.

Jarid Jones? Texas Leaguer scored Tanner to put up the Minutemen?s fifth run.

Lonnie Chessereau took the mound in the third and shut down Heritage over the next three innings. Feeding the Pioneers a steady diet of big breaking pitches, Chessereau gave his mates the opportunity to grab the lead.

And take it they did when Aaron LaFon?s suicide squeeze bunt pushed across the tie-breaker. Ethan Tanner followed that up with a rocket that was misplayed by his counterpart at shortstop, for a 7-5 lead.

LaFon also had a key defensive play in the fourth. Hustling down the line on a ground ball, the catcher scooped up the ball from the wild throw and pegged Jarith Davis, the Heritage runner, as he tried to advance to second. LaFon was in perfect position thanks to his hustle.

Bert White came on in relief during the sixth inning and, although the Pioneers put men on first and second with one out, White got a strikeout and a fly out to end the threat.

Jake Tanner shut down Heritage in the seventh with two strikeouts and a grounder to Eric LaFon at third, and the Minutemen were tacking an unexpected ?W? on their record.

?That was a complete seven innings we played,? said Grant, who added how pleased he was with the aggressiveness his charges showed at the plate.

River pays back Bees

Staunton River avenged an earlier season loss to Brookville as they topped the Bees 8-2 on the Eagle diamond.

Michael Williams, who absorbed the 3-2 loss last time these two teams met, threw a gem of a game, picking off seven Bees via the strikeout.

Williams and company worked out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the fourth inning. The junior lefty got a strikeout and the next Bee hit a liner to first baseman Josh LaPradd, who made the snag and the tag for the inning-ending double play.

Williams also got much more offensive help this time around. Joey West, noted for his defensive prowess, demonstrated his offensive worth as he went 4-for-4 from the plate. That performance helped to push his batting average close to the .500 mark for the year.

LaPradd showed patience at the plate, getting on base during three of his four times at bat but only getting there once by way of a hit. That hit, by the way, was a smashing double.

Chris Terry had a nice night at the plate, going 2-for-3, knocking in 3 runs along the way.

While the Eagles, 3-6 in District play, don?t have a ghost of a chance to win the District, they do have a chance to make some noise once tournament play begins.

Unlike earlier in the season, the bats are now peppery. Williams has morphed into the ace of the staff and has not been hit hard all year. Daniel Kihm has developed a solid mound presence.

It takes but one win in the District tourney to advance to Regional play. You can bet the Eagles are keenly watching the District standings.