LCA Returns to Championship Game

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By Jon Kaufman 
 PBR VA Southwest Area Coverage

On a sunny Friday afternoon in Salem, Virginia, the Liberty Christian Academy Bulldogs exploded in the middle innings, topping the Great Bridge Wildcats, 7-4. The Bulldogs advanced to the Group 4A Championship and will meet the Hanover Hawks with all of the marbles on the line.

LCA's righty Grant Johnson had the ball for the Bulldogs and Caleb Elder was on the mound for Great Bridge, both dreaming of a championship Saturday. Both hurlers held serve for the first three innings. Johnson struck out four in the opening three frames, and Elder allowed just two hits going into the fourth inning.

After Johnson neatly struck out the middle of the Hawks line-up in the top of the fourth, Bulldogs right fielder, Pearce Howard (Southeastern CC), who tripled in his first inning at bat, took a curtain call and drove a three bagger into the left centerfield gap, and scored on a Hunter Johnson's (James Madison) single in the bottom of the frame. Kyle Horton (South Carolina) reached on a walk and Jacob Williams's base hit scored Johnson, creating an early two run advantage for the Bulldogs.

Great Bridge third baseman Alex Ziemke's one out single in the fifth, followed by Dillon Grady's base hit promised a big inning, however, only Ziemke would cross the plate with the help of an infield error. In the bottom of the inning, the Bulldogs were barking for more runs again and and their middle of the order would respond. Howard drew a one out walk and Johnson helped his cause with a single of his own. Kyle Horton loaded the sacks with a single and it was Williams, again, who delivered a timely two RBI single.

Backs against the wall, both Millers opened the sixth with one out walks for the Wildcats. Ziemke's base hit plated Burghie Miller and Jacob Harrelson's base on balls scored Ziemke and the Hawks were down 6-3 going into the seventh.

LCA shortstop Noah Cook (VMI) led off the seventh with a walk and a quick wild pitch put Cook in scoring position. Howard's insurance double in the sixth saw the speedy Cook cross the plate, and the Bulldogs were up 7-4 with three outs to go.

Dalton Jackson's (Navy) lead-off double in the seventh was not enough, as the Bulldogs claimed their spot in the State Championship game against Hanover.