4A State Tournament Preview


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By John Nolan
Assistant Director of Scouting/Content Management 

4A State Bracket

No. 2 Hanover
Hanover is the Conference 20 and 4A East Region Champions. The Hawks recent history is well known, and this Hanover team is one of three teams remaining in Virginia that has not lost a 2016 game to an opponent from Virginia. Hanover has wins over St. John’s, Nansemond River, and Jamestown, and suffered its only loss on its spring trip, bringing a 22-1 record with them to Lynchburg.

Hanover continues its recent trend of being very good on the mound with a ton of depth. The Hawks top arms this year have been seniors Grey Lyttle (High Point) and Hayden Moore (VCU) as well as sophomore Jack Dragum (Virginia). Lyttle is 6-0 with 52 strikeouts and just eight walks while compiling a 0.83 ERA. Moore is 8-0, with 69 strikeouts and nine walks with a 0.46 ERA. Dragum has three wins and fifty strikeouts against five walks, while posting a 1.29 ERA. 

This edition of the Hawks can do more than shove on the mound, as they have a deep lineup one to nine. Senior shortstop Cayman Richardson (Virginia) leads the team with a .528 batting average and senior John Gregory (Longwood) is also hitting .500. Lyttle has been providing the power with six home runs and 32 RBIs on the spring. Another big part of the Hawks’ success has been junior Nolan Caler’s move to the outfield, adding solid defense and lengthening the lineup.

No. 9 Kettle Run
Kettle Run is the Conference 22 Champions, going undefeated in conference play, and the 4A West Region runners-up, surviving a meat grinder of a Region tournament to advance to States. The Cougars beat a very good Jefferson Forest team in the quarterfinals and exploded late against Salem in the semifinals before losing a one-run game to Liberty Christian in the Championship game, bringing Kettle Run’s record to 19-2 entering the State Tournament. 

The Kettle Run rotation has been carried all season by a strong one-two punch of junior lefty Will Merriken and senior righthander Hayden Lilek. Both have ERA’s under two and Lilek leads the team with eight wins, with Merriken having seven. Lilek also narrowly leads the team in strikeouts, with 37 so far in 49 innings this spring.

Offensively, Kettle Run has a potent lineup that is led by Conference 22 Player of the Year and senior centerfielder Brenton Doyle (VMI). Doyle is hitting over .500 on the season and has twelve triples and leads the Cougars with 27 RBIs. Lilek also brings a strong on-base presence to the top of the order, with fourteen stolen bases and some clutch RBIs lately. Juniors Sam Ewald and Noah Goins have added some thump to the middle of the lineup behind Doyle. Both are hitting well over .350 and Ewald has hit three home runs, with Goins adding two. Juniors Tyler Shaffer and Tyler Bianco have solidified the corner outfield defensively as well as added length to the lineup.

No. 2 Liberty Christian
Liberty Christian is the Conference 23 and 4A West Region Champions in their first year of VHSL competition. The Bulldogs defeated Millbrook in the Region Semifinals and defeated Kettle Run in the Region Championship. The Bulldogs are 19-3 overall and are another team that has not lost a game to an opponent from Virginia. LCA’s only losses came in March at USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational tournament. Liberty Christian has not lost a game to a Virginia school since May of 2014. 

The Bulldogs are very good on the mound, with a pair of senior aces in righties Zack Hess (Louisiana State) and Garret Price (Liberty) leading a deep group. The lineup is young and very talented, with sophomore catcher Wes Clarke and junior two-way player Pearce Howard providing the power in the middle. Juniors Noah Cook (VMI) and Hunter Johnson provide length to the lineup and good infield defense while sophomore outfielder Kyle Horton (Liberty) is one of the most athletic players in his class.

No. 5 Jamestown
The Eagles are the Ironclad Conference 18 Champions and the 4A East Runners-up. They have compiled a 21-2 record this spring, with wins over Grassfield, Hickory, and taking two of three from Conference rival and 2015 3A State Champion Lafayette. Jamestown’s only other loss this spring was to Hanover in the Region Championship game.

Jamestown has received some dominant performances on the mound this spring, and the staff has been led by lefthanded senior ace Kent Klyman (North Carolina State), who is 8-0 with a 1.10 ERA and has shown the ability to shut down any lineup in the State. Kylman has gotten plenty of help from junior Ryan Devine, who has nine wins and a sub-2 ERA of his own.

The Eagle offense has been paced this spring by Garrick Colorado, who leads the team in hitting at .409. Senior Evan Lowery (Navy) and junior Michael Schmidt are also hitting well over .300 and each have 23 RBIs.


Our Staff Picks:

Sammy Serrano: This could quite possibly be the best match-up of the year! Liberty Christian defeats Hanover in extra innings.  The length of LCA's lineup allows them to put together good at-bats and put pressure on the Hanover pitching staff.

Jon Kaufman: Liberty Christian

John Nolan: That championship game would be awesome, but the probable semifinal pitching matchup between Hess and Klyman is a must-see event for fans of pitching. That being said, I still think Liberty Christian defeats Hanover in an instant classic.

Josh Steinberg: Liberty Christian

Sean Townsend: Hanover avoids the big arms of Hess and Klyman to capture their third title in four years.

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