Prep Baseball Report

Trio of Lefties Lead Steward to VISAA Semifinals

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By John Nolan
Assistant Director of Scouting/Content Management 

Warrenton-The VISAA State Tournament got underway Monday with quarterfinal action throughout the Commonwealth. In Division II action, seventh-seeded Steward took its 12-11 record on the road to take on the second-seeded (No. 17) Highland School Hawks. The Hawks finished the season 22-3 and won the Delaney Athletic Conference Championship en route to locking up the program’s first VISAA Tournament bid. Steward sent freshman lefthander Logan Ransom to the mound to start the game Highland sent out junior ace righthander Josh Pittman.

Both pitchers took a minute to settle into the game. Steward got a leadoff walk to start the game a one out single by Theron Powell (Walters State) to put runners on the corners with one out. Powell eventually stole second. Pittman was able to strike out the side and strand both runners in scoring position.

Ransom started the game off with his own leadoff walk to centerfielder Noah Lerman, and also issued a two-out walk to Timmy Stephan in the first, but he was able to get out of the inning without any runs scoring.

Pittman worked around a one-out single in the second, picking up his fourth strikeout. With one out in the bottom of the second, Highland freshman rightfielder Luke Burner mashed a ball off of the right-centerfield fence, but a perfect relay caught him trying to stretch it into a triple.

Both pitchers settled in at this point and worked scoreless third and fourth innings, allowing a lone baserunner in each inning, but nothing more as the game quickly moved into the fifth inning with no score. For velocities and scouting information on Ransom and Pittman, check the Virginia/DC Scout Blog later this week.

Centerfielder Parker Wright started the Steward fifth off with a single to centerfield, and he was sacrificed down to second. After Pittman got Kam Smith (Northern Illinois) to fly out to right, advancing Wright to third, Powell was walked intentionally. Senior catcher Dan McCarthy (Marymount) then worked a walk of his own to load the bases with two outs. After a mound visit, first baseman Shawn Brown ripped a single up middle, driving in Wright. Smith then scored when the throw back into the infield got away, giving Steward a 2-0 lead in the middle of the fifth inning.

Ransom responded by having his best inning of the afternoon, only missing a three-up, three-down inning when Lerman reached on an error with two outs. Pittman also bounced back in the sixth, working around a one-out single with a pair of strikeouts. Ransom finished his night with a perfect sixth inning, and the game headed to the seventh with Steward still leading Highland, 2-0.

Pittman’s night came to an and after he sandwiched a hit-by-pitch and infield single around a line out, putting two runners on with one out as Highland went to the pen for senior Shane Buss (Juniata). Buss was welcomed quickly as Brown picked up his second hit of the game, loading the bases. The next play is hard to explain as a line drive was dropped at shortstop and then a runner was forced out and a tag out may or may not have every happened, but the end result was a third Steward run scoring and the inning coming to end with Highland needing to get three in the bottom of the seventh to extend the inning.

Steward turned to eighth grader Harrison Clifton to close the game out. He had the first batter of the inning, six hitter Mark Terrell (Stevenson) in a hole, but Terrell was able to work the count back even and then homered to deep left to put Highland on the board. Clifton responded by striking out Burner, but then a single and a walk put the tying run on base with one out for the top of the Hawk order.

Steward went to the pen again, choosing to bring in freshman lefty Carson Jones. After Jones got Lerman to fly out for the second out of the inning, Pittman was able to work a walk to load the bases for Buss. After a long at bat, Jones was able to get a fastball by Buss to get the strikeout and end the game. For velocities and scouting information on Clifton and Jones, check the Virginia/DC Scout Blog later this week.

For Highland, Pittman earned a tough-luck loss, going 6 1/3 IP, 3 R, 6 H, 4 BB, 2 HBP, and 8 K. Pittman was also 0-2 with 2 BB and a SB at the plate. Terrell went 2-3 with a HR, RBI, and a run. Burner was 1-3 with a double.

For Steward, Ransom earned the win, going 6 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 3 BB, and 5 K. Jones picked up the save, with 2/3 IP, 0 R, BB, and K. Offensively for Steward, Kam Smith with 0-2 with two HBP and a run scored. Powell was 1-3 with a BB, SB, and a run scored. Dan McCarthy went 1-3 with a walk. Shawn Brown was 2-3 with a walk and an RBI.

Steward advances to the VISAA Division II semifinals, where they will face Atlantic Shores Christian on Friday afternoon at Shepherd Stadium in Colonial Heights. Highland’s season comes to an end with the loss, but the Hawks made major strides as a program this year, winning the DAC and advancing the playoffs for the first time. With only two graduating seniors in Buss and Terrell, look for the Hawks to be back again in 2017.

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