Prep Baseball Report

Kettle Run Walks Off into the Semifinals

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By John Nolan
Assistant Director of Scouting/Content Management 

Nokesville-A nice Monday night in Northern Virginia saw No. 11 Kettle Run host No. 9 Jefferson Forest in the 4A West quarterfinals. Jefferson Forest was the Conference 23 runners-up, and had to beat Woodgrove on Friday night to reach this game. Kettle Run won Conference 22 and opened their Regional play with this game. The Cavaliers sent senior Zach Peek (Winthrop) to the mound and the Cougars sent out junior lefty Will Merriken.

Both teams got the leadoff runner on to start the first inning, but neither was able to move him around to score, and the first three innings passed very quickly as both pitchers dominated. For velocities and scouting information on Merriken and Peek, check the Virginia/DC Scout Blog later this week.

Jefferson Forest got its offense in gear in the top of the fourth as junior Cody Whitten and senior Indiana Hall (Concord) both singled to start the inning. Catcher Cam Smith hit a chopper to third, Whitten was called out for backpedaling towards second, and Hall was forced out at second as the Cougars nearly turned a triple play to essentially end the threat.

Peek got his first out, but then he left a pitch up and over the plate and senior centerfielder Brenton Doyle (VMI) slammed it for a home run to left field, giving Kettle Run a 1-0 lead after four innings.

Merriken threw a perfect fifth inning and Peek worked around a two-out infield single to send the game quickly to the sixth. In the top of the inning, senior centerfielder Chris Crouch got a one out single, and that would be all for Merriken as Kettle Run brought Doyle in from center to try to close the game out. Doyle struck out Whitten for his first out, but Hall was able to reach on an error, which put runners on the corners with two outs for Cam Smith. Hall attempted to get into a rundown on a 1-2 pitch, but Kettle Run ignored him as Doyle delivered ball two, putting both runners in scoring position. On the next pitch, Smith got fisted, but was able to flare a ball into shallow rightfield, scoring both runners and giving Jefferson Forest the lead.

Junior Max Lilek got a one-out walk in the bottom of the sixth, and reached third base before Peek was able to strand him there, getting a strikeout of Doyle and a groundout to end the inning. Doyle worked a scoreless seventh, and the game moved to the bottom half with Kettle Run trailing 2-1 and its season on the line.

The bottom of the seventh got off to a good start for the Cougars as Noah Goins and Merriken singled to put two on with no outs. After the runners were bunted into scoring position, Austin Fisher worked a walk to load the bases with one out. Peek found a little something extra, and blew away Tyler Bianco for the second out, bringing up senior shortstop Hayden Lilek. Lilek chopped a grounder towards third, and Hall could not get a handle on it, allowing the tying run to score for Kettle Run. Jefferson Forest went to the bullpen at this point, bringing in Whitten, who struck out the younger Lilek to end the inning and send the game to extras.

For the top of the eighth, Kettle Run also went to the pen for a junior, bringing in Goins. He hit a batter with one out, but otherwise worked a clean eighth. In the bottom of eighth, Whitten issued a leadoff walk to Doyle, and then promptly picked him off of first base. He then issued another walk and gave up a single to Goins, putting the winning run in scoring position. After Merriken struck out, Tyler Shaffer drilled a ball towards the right-center gap that appeared to be the game winning hit, but Jefferson Forest centerfielder Chris Crouch came out of nowhere to make a diving catch and save the game.

Goins worked a quick, perfect top of the ninth, getting the Cougars back to the plate quickly. After a pop out for the first out, Bianco dropped a perfect bunt and beat out the throw for an infield single. Whitten issued another walk, this one to Hayden Lilek, to again put the winning run in scoring position. Jefferson Forest went to the bullpen again, bringing in Indiana Hall. Junior Max Lilek welcomed Hall to game quickly, lining a ball to right-center for a base hit, driving in Bianco and ending the game with a 3-2 win for Kettle Run.

For the Cavaliers, Peek took a no-decision, going 6 2/3 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 2 BB, 10 K. Whitten took the loss, going 1 2/3 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 3 BB, 2 K while also going 1-3 with a HBP at the plate. Crouch was 1-3 with a run. Smith was 1-4 with 2 RBIs.

For Kettle Run, Merriken took a no-decision, going 5 1/3 IP, 1 R, 5 H, 1 K while also going 2-4 at the plate. Doyle went 1 2/3 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 2 BB, K, while also going 1-3 with a BB and a HR. Goins earned the win, going 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, HBP, K while going 2-4 with a run. Max Lilek went 1-4 with a BB, SB, and an RBI. Hayden Lilek went 1-4 with a BB, SB. Fisher went 1-3 with a BB. The Cougars host Salem in the Regional Semifinals on Wednesday night.


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