It became a goal almost as soon as the 2011 season ended in heartbreaking fashion.
William Monroe’s baseball team was determined to get to the state tournament.
“We were one game away and as soon as that game was over we said we’re going to states next year,” said Monroe senior Logan Forloines. “Ever since then we’ve been working hard to get there. Now we’re going.”
The Dragons got it done Wednesday night by manufacturing a 5-0 victory despite finishing with just three hits on the night against Randolph-Henry in the Region B semifinals. The win puts William Monroe in the Group A, Division 2 tournament in the program’s first year in Group A. Last year’s Jefferson District title team’s postseason run ended against Potomac Falls in the Region II semifinals.
The Dragons avenged that loss with yet another strong outing from senior pitcher Jordan Gentry, who hasn’t lost a game in two years for William Monroe. Gentry struck out eight and held Randolph-Henry to just three hits on the night.
“He was hammering the strike zone and I think he was at 60 pitches going into the last inning,” said Monroe coach Mike Maynard. “We had a couple of guys ready but he wanted the ball. I can’t take the ball away from that kid.”
The fact that Gentry works incredibly quickly had a seismic impact on the Dragons’ defensive effort too. Whenever the senior hurler is on the mound it seems like he’s in a hurry to get back to the dugout. He retired the side in five of seven innings and took just seven pitches to get out of the sixth inning while facing the heart of the Randolph-Henry order.
“We’re not wandering around and stuff, we’re focused right there on the pitch every pitch,” Forloines said. “We’re ready to go.”
Gentry’s run support came first from Ryan Morris who has been on an absolute tear of late. Morris unleashed his fifth home run in the last four games with a blast to left centerfield that plated Forloines in the fourth inning. That broke open the scoreless tie. Monroe extended its lead in the fifth with a three-run frame highlighted by Forloines effort. The senior catcher started the three-run spurt with an RBI single and after an Austin Batten sacrifice fly, Forloines stole home when he recognized that the Statesmen’s pitcher, Randy Walker, was throwing a curveball out of his deliberate delivery.
“He kind of had a slow delivery and I timed it a couple of times and made up my mind that I was going,” Forloines said. “I saw a curveball and went for it.”
Ryan Leake had the only other hit for Monroe.
Randolph-Henry, a James River District squad who had to rally past Clarke County earlier this week for a 7-6 win on the road to get into the region semifinals, struggled to find a counter-punch against Gentry’s efficient effort on the mound.
“Monday night against Clarke was crazy, we were down five in the bottom of the last inning — we scored four and had a guy on second and hit a two-run walk-off to win it,” said Randolph-Henry coach Todd Abell. “The kids battled all year and I think we just ran out of gas.”
The Dragons advance to the Region B final Friday night against Appomattox at 7 p.m. where they’ll play for the right to host in the Group A, Division 2 quarterfinals. Gentry will get a few days rest before throwing in the state quarterfinal Tuesday while a group of pitchers will throw against Appomattox including Jack Morris and Ryan Morris.