Rally falls just short for Vikings
LAFAYETTE 5, LOUDOUN VALLEY 4
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.”