Rally falls just short for Vik­ings


The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY DANIEL GALLEN daniel.gallen@wash­post.com

lynch­burg, va. — Af­ter dig­ging it­self an early hole, Loudoun Val­ley clawed back, con­vinced the hits were go­ing to start mul­ti­ply­ing and the runs were go­ing to start cross­ing the plate. The Vik­ings had come back be­fore — in­clud­ing in the re­gion semi­fi­nals to clinch a berth in the state tour­na­ment— and so Satur­day’s Vir­ginia 3A state cham­pi­onship base­ball game against Lafayette was go­ing to be no dif­fer­ent.

Soon, the four-run deficit dis­ap­peared. But Lafayette out­fielder Luc Lip­cius’s solo home run in the top of the sev­enth, a deep blast to­ward a red ca­boose la­beled “Flame Train” that sits be­yond the right field wall at Lib­erty Base­ball Sta­dium, proved to be the de­ci­sive run in his team’s 5-4 win over the Vik­ings.

“Even if it’s in the bot­tom of the sixth in­ning, we all have con­fi­dence that sooner or later one hit is go­ing to lead to four, five,” said ju­nior catcher Hunter Gore, who went 3 for 3 with two dou­bles and three RBI. “Runs are go­ing to start scor­ing. When you play with a team like this, you al­most never lose con­fi­dence that you can’t come back on a team.”

Lafayette (19-6) jumped to a 4-0 lead af­ter three innings. Wil­liam and Mary-bound catcher Matt Keane went 2 for 4 with two runs scored from the lead­off spot for the Rams, and pitcher An­dre Lip­cius (Ten­nessee) was3 for 4 with two RBI.

Vik­ings Coach Wayne Todd went to An­drew Lohr in the fourth in­ning to try to stem the tide, and it worked.

Lohr re­tired the first five bat­ters he faced and held Lafayette in check while the Loudoun Val­ley of­fense went to work. Gore had an RBI dou­ble in the fourth and a two-run dou­ble in the fifth to bring the Vik­ings (23-3) to within one be­fore Lohr tied the game with an RBI sin­gle.

But the Lip­cius broth­ers proved to be too much. Luc’s shot pro­vided the dif­fer­ence, and An­dre snuffed out any last gasp for a Loudoun Val­ley re­peat ti­tle. The Rams, in­stead, cel­e­brated their first state ti­tle.

“We kept fight­ing,” ju­nior short­stop Trey McDyre said. “We were in this po­si­tion be­fore, and we knew what it takes to come back, which we thought we had, but it ended up com­ing short.”

“They hon­estly be­lieved that up un­til the last out,” Todd said. “And so did I.”

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