Prep Baseball Report

Hanover's Pitching Sends it Past Kettle Run to Championship Game

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By John Nolan
Assistant Director of Scouting/Content Management 

Lynchburg-A warm, sunny Friday afternoon at Liberty University was the site for the 4A State Semifinals. The first game of the afternoon was between 4A West runners-up No. 9 Kettle Run and 4A East champions, No. 2 Hanover. The Cougars started junior lefty Will Merriken and Hanover went with senior Grey Lyttle (High Point).

The first two innings of the game went quickly as Merriken and Lyttle put up zeroes. Each team had a baserunner in each inning, but neither team was able to turn their baserunner into a threat. For velocities and scouting information from this game, check the Virginia/DC Scout Blog next week.

Lyttle again worked around a two out baserunner in the top of the third, this time a walk, to keep the game scoreless headed to the bottom of the third inning.

In the bottom of the third, designated hitter Jacob Weis (Richmond) led off with a single to right. After he stole second, catcher Hunter Marshall (Hampden-Sydney) bunted him to third with one out. With the infield drawn in, sophomore second baseman Jack Dragum (Virginia) singled to center to give Hanover a 1-0 lead. Camden Grimes was called out on a questionable interference call for the second out of the inning. With two outs, John Gregory (Longwood) singled to right to put two runners on. Shortstop Cayman Richardson (Virginia) singled up the middle, driving in Dragum. Gregory was thrown out trying to advance to third on the play, but at the end of three, the score was Hanover 2, Kettle Run 0.

Lyttle again got the first two outs in the fourth before allowing a lone baserunner as he put up his fourth zero of the day. Merriken bounced back with a perfect fourth of his own.

In the fifth, an error and a walk to Hayden Lilek put two runners on with one out for Kettle Run. A groundout to third moved both runners into scoring position for centerfielder Brenton Doyle (VMI). Hanover opted to send Doyle to first to load the bases for first baseman Sam Ewald. Lyttle got Ewald to ground out to first to end the threat.  Merriken threw another perfect inning in the bottom half of the fifth.

In the top of the sixth, Merriken drew a walk with one out and Hanover went to the bullpen. Gregory came in from first base and got a strikeout and a pop out in foul territory to end the top of the sixth. In the bottom of the sixth, Gregory picked up his second hit of the day with one out and his courtesy runner made it to third, where Merriken stranded him.

In the top of the seventh, Hanover again went to the pen, bringing in Hayden Moore (VCU) to close the game out. Rightfielder Tyler Bianco grounded a ball towards the 3.5 hole and Dragum almost made an insane play, but the throw got away, putting Bianco in scoring position with no outs and the top of the order due up for Kettle Run. During Hayden Lilek’s at-bat, Hanover ran the fake pickoff and pretend the ball went into centerfield play and had Bianco completely fooled. Bianco was called safe at third though, another in a long list of questionable calls that occurred in this game. Lilek grounded out to third but Bianco scored, cutting the deficit to 2-1. Moore was able to bear down and get a couple of strikeouts, ending the game with a 90 mile per hour fastball by Doyle to push Hanover to Saturday’s State Championship game.

For Kettle Run, Merriken took the loss but threw well, going 6 IP, 2 R, 7 H, 0 BB, 1 K and also going 1-2 at the plate with a BB. Bianco was 1-3 with a run. Doyle was 1-3. Hayden Lilek was 0-3 with a BB and an RBI.

For Hanover, Lyttle earned the win with 5 1/3 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 4 BB, 4 K. Gregory threw 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K and was 2-3 at the plate. Moore earned the save with 1 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 2 K. Dragum was 1-3 with a RBI and a run. Grimes was 1-3. Richardson was 1-3 with an RBI. Nolan Caler was 1-2. Weis went 1-2 with a run.


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