First place will be on the line Friday night when Lord Botetourt plays host to Northside in a big Blue Ridge District baseball game.
This game has it all. The Vikings are defending state champs and undefeated on the season after an exciting 3-0, nine inning, win over William Byrd last Friday. LB was the BRD champ last season and is off to an 11-1 start this season with a perfect district record coming into the week. On Tuesday LB was at Alleghany and Northside played Rockbridge, but results were too late for publication.
“It’s not going to determine the regular season champion, but the winner will be in a good spot,” said LB coach Todd Smith. “No one is going to go undefeated in this district.”
Northside will likely pitch lefty Todd Dunbar, who threw seven shutout innings in Vinton last Friday, then hit a three-run homer in the top of the ninth for the winning margin. Smith is hoping to pitch Michael Mnich, whose is considered the staff ace. However, Mnich hasn’t pitched since injuring his shoulder blade during an intra-squad game over spring break. Luckily it was his left shoulder and Michael is right-handed, but it still causes reason for concern.
“He was feeling pretty good on Monday, but we’ll just have to see how it comes along,” said Smith. “There’s nothing you can do about it to get it better except rest.”
If Mnich can’t pitch Smith will turn to Brian Ward, who was exceptional in a shutout win over Staunton River last Friday in Daleville. Ward struck out eight and pitched a four-hitter as Botetourt won 6-0.
Offensively, Zack Kelly continued to pound the ball for LB. Kelly was four-for-four with a double against Staunton River, raising his season batting average to .450. Zack Maust had two hits in the win.
Also last week, the Cavaliers beat Rockbridge County, 4-1, behind a complete game pitching effort by Kelly. He struck out eight and allowed five hits to improve his mound record to 2-0, and he also had two hits at the plate.
The big story for Botetourt in this game was three home runs, one each by Will Cline, Conner Bronson and Dylan Powers. The blast by Powers was the 16th of his high school career, breaking Josh Holskey’s school record. Holskey is now a senior on the Campbell University baseball team in North Carolina.
Last Wednesday LB won a non-district game at home against Liberty. Ashby Humbert pitched a complete game shutout, fanning six and allowing just three hits as LB continued to get great efforts on the mound. Kelly had two more hits and Cline had another homer, his third of the season.
Next week the second half of the district season begins, and LB will host William Byrd on Tuesday.