Western Branch Walks Off into the Final


John Nolan
Virginia Assistant Director & Content Manager

UG 6.20

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Friday morning saw the defending Class 6 State Champion Western Branch Bruins take on Thomas Dale in a State semifinal matchup. A back and forth game went to extra innings before Western Branch was able to win on a walk-off, 6-5.

The first inning went pretty quickly as neither team was able to score. Bruin sophomore Reid Long threw a perfect first with 2 strikeouts and Dale starter Ryan Hazlett worked around a single and an error for his scoreless inning.

In the top of the second, Reid got two quick outs and then gave up a double to Korey Harmon and walked Nate Tuck. Rafi Rodriguez yanked a double down the rightfield line, driving in a run and giving Dale a 1-0 lead. Western Branch would answer in the bottom of the inning and tie the game on an RBI groundout, after two the score was 1-1.

Long worked around a pair of singles in the third and Hazlett threw a perfect inning to send the game to the fourth still 1-1. In the top of the fourth, after two singles put runners on the corners with one out for Dale, Hazlett helped his own cause with an RBI single, giving the Knights a 2-1 lead. Cole Garrett drove in another run with a single and in the middle of the fourth, Thomas Dale had a 3-1 lead.

The lead was to be short lived, after a leadoff single and a sacrifice, Long doubled to left, driving in a run and cutting the Dale lead to 3-2. Jalen Perez tied the game with a triple to deep center, and Micah Brown gave the Bruins the lead with a triple of his own. A hit batsmen led to a Dale pitching change, and then Connor Butler (Roanoke) drove in a run with a single to left. The inning would end there and after 4, Western Branch led 5-3.

In the top of the fifth, Thomas Dale was able to load the bases on a pair of singles and an error with two outs. Freshman Johnny Oates delivered a game-tying, 2 RBI single in his first at-bat after entering the game during the pitching change. Western Branch was held scoreless in the bottom of the fifth and after five, the game was again tied, this time at 5.

Both teams scratched a baserunner in the sixth but neither could score him. In the top of the seventh, Western Branch went to Bryce Sommerfeldt on the mound and he struck out the side while working around an Oates single. In the bottom of the seventh, Butler led the inning off with his third hit of the game and was bunted into scoring position. An intentional walk and a groundout put the winning runs in scoring position, but Tyler Bailey was able to field a comebacker and convert for the inning-ending out and send the game to extra innings.

Sommerfeldt worked a perfect top of the eighth, and in the bottom half the Bruins sent the bottom of the order to the plate. A leadoff single from Long went to left, and instead of bunting, Perez flared a single to right-center to put two on with no outs. Again forgoing the bunt, Brown ripped a base hit and drove in Long with the winning run, making the final score Western Branch 6, Thomas Dale 5.

For Dale, Oates was 2-2 with a 2B and 2 RBIs. Tanner Holben was 3-5 with a 2B. Harmon was 2-4 with a 2B and 2 runs. Rodriguez was 2-4 with a 2B and an RBI.

For Western Branch, Sommerfeldt got the win with 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 4 K. Butler was 3-4 with an RBI. Long was 2-4 with a 2B and an RBI. Brown was 3-4 with a 2B, 3B, and 2 RBIs including the game-winner.

 

 

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