Mike Sheridan didn’t like the focus on Tuesday night in a 7-5 loss to Monticello in the Jefferson District semifinals. His team didn’t need long to recover and make their coach happy.
“They came to practice yesterday a different group of individuals,” the Fluvanna skipper said. “It showed tonight.”
With a complete game from starting pitcher Brock Harris and a big second inning offensively, the results Thursday were decidedly different for the Flucos in the consolation game against Western Albemarle. By virtue of the 6-1, Fluvanna is headed to the Region II tournament for the second straight year.
“Brock went out there and threw a great baseball game there,” Sheridan said. “But hey, we hit the ball a bit today and we didn’t do that the other night with runners on base. We were much more focused. When you’re out of school like we are sometimes you lose focus.”
Harris and his defense were on point from start to finish. Western was held to just six total base runners. To start, Harris retired his first six batters faced and nine of the first 10. The Flucos junior struck out four batters.
“I went out there like I always do trying to throw strikes, it works and it worked again,” Harris said.
After failing to score with the bases loaded in the first, Fluvanna put up five runs in the second thanks to a pair of wild pitches with the bases loaded and then an RBI single from Harris and a 2-run single from Josh Barringer.
Western scored it’s first and only run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly from Jack Maynard. Fluvanna responded with a sacrifice fly of it’s own from Barringer.
The last three innings were scoreless and Harris saw his game finish with a double play thanks to a catch in center from Kyle Pillow who then threw out a runner caught between first and second.
“Your season always ends on what you don’t do the best,” said Western coach Skip Hudgins. “We hit the ball hard only twice tonight, we had a lot of easy outs and soft outs.”
Harris finished his second straight multi-hit game, going 3 for 4 this time around.
“I’ve been working a lot off the tee and in the cage,” Harris said. “That’s helped a lot so hopefully I’ll keep on hitting.”
Hitting ninth, Javon Burton had a big game, going 3 for 3 with a double and a run scored.
No team in the Jefferson District threw its youngest players into game play like Western did this year, and thanks to freshmen like Parker Morris and Maynard just to name a few, what was supposed to be a complete rebuilding year wound up being a season in which the Warriors came one win away from earning a Region II bid.
“Obvioulsy our young guys have played very well and there’s a bright future for the kids that were with us and the ones coming back,” Hudgins said. “We have high hopes for them, but I do wish we could have done better for our seniors. Unfortunately, that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Fluvanna graduated a sizeable number of seniors last year including first team All-JD players Ryan Foster and Tyler Denby. Nonetheless, this relatively young group has earned its Region II berth just like the team before them.
“To do this two years in a row? We’re just trying to keep this train rolling,” Sheridan said.
For the players, getting to the next round is a challenge they’re ready to meet.
“We’ve got a lot of juniors,” Harris said. “We got a lot of experience last year so I think we’ll be alright.”
The Flucos will play in the Region II tournament on Monday, against a team and time TBD.