Hanover Defeats LCA in Wild 4A Title Game
June 11, 2016
By John Nolan
Assistant Director of Scouting/Content Management
Lynchburg-A warm, hazy afternoon at Liberty University was the location for one of the most highly anticipated games of the 2016 high school season. Hanover and Liberty Christian Academy entered the VHSL 4A State Championship game sharing the No. 2 ranking in our weekly Power 25 rankings. Neither team has lost a game this spring to an opponent from Virginia, with Hanover’s lone loss coming on its spring trip and LCA’s three losses coming at the National High School Invitational hosted by USA Baseball. Liberty Christian sent senior Garret Price (Liberty) to the mound for the start and Hanover countered with senior Hayden Moore (VCU).
In the top of the first, Richard De La Cruz drew a one out walk and stole second. Catcher Wes Clarke reached on an error, putting two runners on with one out. Junior Pearce Howard singled to left, driving in De La Cruz and giving LCA an early 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the first, sophomores Jack Dragum (Virginia) and Camden Grimes both singled to left to open the inning. They both moved into scoring position on a grounder to the right side. Senior shortstop Cayman Richardson (Virginia) drove in one run with a groundout to short, tying the game at one. Designated hitter Grey Lyttle (High Point) singled to center to pick up a second run and give Hanover a 2-1 lead at the end of the first.
Moore settled in after a leadoff single by Hunter Johnson in the second, and set the next three hitters down, including a pair of strikeouts. Price started his half of the second with a pair of strikeouts as well, but an error with two outs extended the inning and brought Dragum back up to the plate. He doubled to left, driving in the third Hawk run.
In the top of the third, Moore had finally gotten really locked in, adding two more strikeouts while firing a three-up, three-down inning. In the bottom of the third, John Gregory (Longwood) reached on an infield single and then went first to third as Richardson singled to right, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Lyttle hit into a fielder’s choice, with Price doing a good job of holding the runner at third, for the first out. Moore drew a walk to load the bases and Price was able to get a strikeout for the second out. Jacob Weis (Richmond) singled to center with two outs, driving in two runs and extending the Hanover lead to 5-1.
Moore continued his dominance in the fourth, allowing a leadoff single that was erased with a caught stealing, and nothing more. Price struck out the side in the fourth, allowing no Hanover runs for the first time all game. For velocities and scouting information on players in this game, check the Virginia/DC Scout Blog next week.
Moore again worked around a lone baserunner in the fifth, bringing Hanover up to the plate in the bottom half while still holding onto a 5-1 lead. A leadoff walk to Lyttle in the fifth would the end of Price’s day on the mound, with Austin Roach coming into pitch. Moore would welcome him with a single, and the runners were bunted into scoring position. After an intentional walk to Weis to load the bases, Roach was able to get a pop up for the second out. That brought up Dragum, who chopped an infield single, driving in a run to make the score 6-1. Grimes drew a walk, driving in another run, and opening a 7-1 lead. That sent LCA to the bullpen again, and junior Grant Johnson got the last out of the inning.
With the game headed to the sixth inning, Hanover seemed to be in control and on their way to capturing a State Championship, when needless to say, things got ridiculous.
The top of the sixth started with Richard De La Cruz mashing a double off of the rightfield fence. Moore got a strikeout for his first out and Pearce Howard singled to right, his third hit of the game. After a long at-bat, Zack Hess (Louisiana State) singled to right, driving in De La Cruz and cutting the deficit to 7-2. Hanover went to the bullpen during Hunter Johnson’s at-bat, bringing Gregory in. Johnson worked a walk, loading the bases. Gregory attempted a back pick at first, and hit Johnson in the helmet, allowing everyone to advance and a run to score. Horton chopped a ball in the hole that wasn’t handled, cutting the score to 7-4. Noah Cook (VMI) added a single to left, driving in another run and sending Hanover back to the pen.
Hanover brought in sophomore Jack Dragum (Virginia), who got the second out on a fly ball to center. With two outs, Garret Price ripped a triple to right, driving in two runs and tying the game at seven. De La Cruz added to the onslaught with another double, this one hopping over the left-centerfield fence and giving LCA a lead. De La Cruz would score when Clarke reached on an error, stretching LCA’s lead to 9-7 and wrapping up an eight run top of the sixth inning.
Now holding onto a lead, Liberty Christian went to the pen again to start the bottom of the sixth, bringing in Peace Howard. After getting a comebacker for the first out, Howard walked Lyttle and gave up singles to Moore and Nolan Caler to load the bases with one out. Weis doubled to right, driving in two runs and tying the game at nine. Hunter Marshall (Hampden-Sydney) chopped a ball to third that was mishandled, giving Hanover the lead back. A walk to Dragum would be the end of Howard’s day on the mound, and LCA turned to senior Zach Fuqua. Grimes welcomed Fuqua to the game with an RBI single to left, and Gregory added another RBI single of his own. After an intentional walk, Fuqua got a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning with Hanover scoring six runs to retake the lead at 13-9.
In the top of the seventh, Liberty need four to tie the game and got right to work against Dragum as Hess beat out an infield single and Hunter Johnson picked up his second hit of the day. A walk to Horton loaded the bases with no outs and brought coach Charlie Dragum out to the mound for a pitching change. Tyler Morgan (Longwood) came into the game, and Cook lined a ball to right that was dropped, allowing two runs to score and putting runners on the corners with LCA trailing 13-11. A wild pitch allowed the twelfth run to score and moved Cook to second with no outs as the tying run. Connor Austin dropped a perfect bunt with two strikes and appeared to be safe, but was called out for stepping out of the box. After Price flew out to left, Morgan got De La Cruz to strikeout to end the game and capture the State Championship for Hanover, 13-12.
Garret Price 1-5, 1 R, 2 RBI, 3B
Richard De La Cruz 2-4, 3 R, RBI, BB, SB, 2 2B
Wesley Clarke 0-4, RBI
Pearce Howard 3-4, R, RBI
Zack Hess 2-4, 2 R, RBI
Hunter Johnson 2-3, 2 R, BB
Kyle Horton 0-3, RBI, 2 R, BB
Connor Austin 0-3, BB
Garret Price 4 IP, 5 R, 7 H, 2 BB, 7 K
Austin Roach 2/3 IP 1 R, 2 H, 1 BB
Grant Johnson 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB
Pearce Howard 1/3 IP, 6 R, 3 H, 2 BB
Zach Fuqua 2/3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K
Jack Dragum 3-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, 2B
Camden Grimes 2-4, R, 2 RBI, BB
John Gregory 2-4, R, RBI, BB, SB
Cayman Richardson 1-4, RBI, BB
Grey Lyttle 1-3, 3 R, RBI, 2 BB, SB
Hayden Moore 2-4, 2 R, BB
Nolan Caler 1-4, R
Jacob Weis 2-4, R, 4 RBI, 2B, BB
Hunter Marshall 0-4, 2 R, RBI
Hayden Moore 5 1/3 IP, 4 R, 6 H, 2 BB, 6 K
John Gregory 0 IP, 3 R, 1 H, BB
Jack Dragum 2/3 IP, 5 R, 4 H, 1 BB
Tyler Morgan 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, K