Blacksburg upends Western baseball in Region 3A West quarterfinals

Baseball is a fickle game — occasionally, everything that’s been working for an entire season suddenly just stops happening.

“All it takes is a day where you run into a kid who pitches well and he did,” said Western Albemarle coach Skip Hudgins. “You run into where every ball that you square up goes right at somebody which it did. You run into where you don’t cash in on any opportunities that you have and we did. If this is where you play 162 games you chalk it up and move on but what this does to us…it’s pretty devastating.”

The Warriors, who’ve regularly posted 10-run outputs offensively and held opponents to around one run, couldn’t put together that formula Monday night at home against Blacksburg. Instead, the Bruins walked away with a 4-1 victory in the Region 3A West quarterfinals and Western endured a season-ending defeat.

Western connected well at times off sophomore Blacksburg ace Morgan McCoy, but each hard-hit ball seemed to end in a Bruins’ glove. McCoy struck our four and didn’t walk anyone, forcing Western to work for everything the Warriors got.

“That’s pretty impressive, that kid (McCoy) pitched his rear end off and that’s getting it done,” said Blacksburg coach Danny Shouse.

Western’s biggest missed opportunity came in the third inning when the Warriors loaded the bases with Josh Casteen and John Mark Mastakas singling and Steven Mangrum taking a pitch to the body to load the bases with one out. Blacksburg clamped down though, and escaped the inning unscathed.

Blacksburg, meanwhile, went up 1-0 in the second and tacked on two runs in the fourth to move ahead 3-0. Western responded with a run in the bottom of the fifth on a Mangrum sacrifice fly to deep center that scored Casteen. But a play a 9-2 double play on a ball hit to shallow right field ended the threat for the Bruins.

“This is baseball, it’s just (small) stuff like that that’s a big momentum (lift),” Shouse said.

The Bruins advance to the Region 3A West semifinals while the Warriors’ squad with the highest winning percentage in program history closes out their season. Western went 20-2 in 2014, good for a 91 percent winning percentage, eclipsing the previous high-water mark of 88 percent set in 1996.