Jefferson Forest Defeats Conf 23 Rival Amherst



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By John Nolan
Assistant Director of Scouting/Content Management 

Forest-Rivals Amherst County and No. 17 Jefferson Forest squared off in a Conference 23 matchup on Wednesday night. The Cavaliers entered the game 8-1 on the season, having not yet opened conference play. Amherst dropped its conference opener to E.C. Glass in March and this game was incredibly important as neither team wanted to fall too far off of the pace early. The Lancers sent senior righthander Greg O’Brien to the mound to start the game and Jefferson Forest countered with sophomore lefty Luke Fowler.

Amherst got to work quickly in the top of the first with senior third baseman Blaine Cunningham drawing a walk and stealing second and third base. Junior centerfielder Ezra Baier drove Cunningham in with a two-out single to right to give the Lancers an early 1-0 lead.

The bottom half of the first got off to an ominous start as O’Brien walked the first three hitters of the inning to load the bases. Senior third baseman Zeke Bond tied the game with a fielder’s choice to second. Junior first baseman Cody Whitten gave the Cavaliers the lead with a sacrifice fly to deep left field. Senior designated hitter Zach Peek doubled down the leftfield line, but the threat ended there and the score after one was Jefferson Forest 2, Amherst County 1.

Fowler worked around a pair of singles in the top of the second and O’Brien settled down with a perfect inning as the game quickly moved to the third inning. The Lancer bats came alive again to start the third as seniors Travis Wood and Christian Campbell singled to start the inning. That brought up Baier again, who again delivered, tying the game with a single to right center and sending Campbell to third. With the game tied, Jefferson Forest elected to go to the pen and brought in sophomore lefty Bubba Jones. Jones issued a walk to his first batter to load the bases with no outs, then got a pop out to first, a strikeout, and a fly out to right to end the threat with the game still tied, leaving the bases loaded.

Jefferson Forest’s half of the third inning started with a harmless fly ball that turned into a two-base error when it was dropped. After a walk, pinch hitter Indiana Hall (Concord) singled to left-center, driving in one run and allowing a second to score when the ball was misplayed in the outfield, giving the Cavaliers back the lead at 4-2. Hall advanced to third on a fly out to right, and scored the fifth Jefferson Forest run when junior rightfielder Morgan Marshall beat out an infield single. The third inning came to a close two batters later with Jefferson Forest leading Amherst, 5-2.

Facing a three-run deficit, the Lancers got right to work as junior rightfielder Nathan Loyd ripped a double down the rightfield line to lead off the fourth. Loyd was thrown out by senior catcher Camydn Smith trying to advance to third on a ball in the dirt. Cunningham then singled to left and Wood drew a walk, bringing an end to Bubba Jones’ day. The Cavaliers went to the pen and brought in Cody Whitten. Whitten was able to squelch the threat with a groundout and a strikeout.

Amherst County made their own change on the on the mound to start the fourth inning, turning to senior lefty Wyatt Leonard. Leonard tossed a perfect fourth. Whitten worked out of trouble in a top of the fifth that saw him facing runners on first and third with one out and escape by getting a strikeout and then a pickoff to end the inning.

Jefferson Forest added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth as the inning started off with Hall getting hit by a pitch and Whitten singling past the second baseman. A popout and a walk loaded the bases with one out and junior shortstop Dakota Whitt cashed in the bases loaded opportunity with a sacrifice fly to deep left-center.

In the Amherst sixth, Cunningham and Wood both singled with one out, and then completed a successful double steal before Whitten ended the threat by getting a strikeout and a lineout to center. In the top of the seventh, Amherst again got two runners on base before Whitten got a strikeout looking to end the game.

For the Lancers, O’Brien took the loss with a line of 3 IP, 5 R, 3 H, 4 BB, and 2 K. Leonard’s final line was 3 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 HBP. Offensively, Blaine Cunningham went 2-3 with a BB, 3 SB, and a run scored. Wood went 2-3 with a run, a BB, and a SB. Baier finished 2-4 with 2 RBI.

For the Cavaliers, Fowler finished with a line of 2 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 2 BB, and 1 K. Jones earned the win with a line of 1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 1 K. Whitten earned a save with a line of 3 2/3 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 2 BB, and 5 K. Whitten also went 1-2 with an RBI at the plate. Hall went 1-1 with a BB, an RBI, and 2 runs scored. Marshall went 1-2 with a BB, an RBI, and a SB.

The Cavaliers return to action Friday night as they continue Conference 23 play with a matchup against E.C. Glass. The Lancers also return to action Friday as the host Heritage (Lynchburg).

 

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