LEBANON, Va. – The torrid pace continued on Tuesday for the Lebanon Pioneers.
In quite a display, Lebanon rolled to a 15-1 demolition of Appomattox in the quarterfinals of the VHSL Class 2 state baseball tournament.
Averaging more than10 runs per game this season, the Pioneer bats have been even more of a wrecking crew lately, scoring 71 runs in the last six games.
“It’s been someone different every game,” Lebanon coach Doc Adams said. “Even some at the bottom of the order have been carrying us at times this season.
“It’s been a team effort all year. I can’t complain about this team, they like playing together. You never know who is going to pick the other one up. I think I have a good team, nobody cares about who gets the credit. They all come to play every day.”
There were several stars in the lineup against the Raiders. Start with shortstop Preston Steele, who finished with two hits, including a three-run homer, and had six RBIs.
“[Appomattox pitcher Johnny Hamlett] came in with a fastball right down the middle,” said Steele of his second-inning homer. “I was able to hit it dead center, it just felt amazing.
“The first AB didn’t go to well for me, but after that I kind of got locked in. I felt good at the plate.”
Anthony Houchins was also a force with two doubles, three runs scored and four RBIs in the win. Logan Smith contributed two hits, including a two-run blast.
Cole Stoots and Izaac Pritt added two hits each as Lebanon (23-2) totaled 13 hits in the game.
It didn’t follow the typical script for sophomore pitcher Matthew Buchanan. The second hitter in the Appomattox (13-12) batting order, Luke Olimpio went deep for a rapid 1-0 advantage.
“I just left it up and he hit it over the fence,” Buchanan said. “It was a good hit, props to him. When stuff like that happens, you just have to keep your head and go after the next hitter. That’s all you can do.”
Buchanan quickly settled down, striking out the next two batters to get out of the inning. He didn’t allow another run, going five innings and striking out 11. Casey White came on in relief and pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh.
“We knew we weren’t going to hit him [Buchanan] a ton, he’s a good pitcher and he showed that,” Appomattox coach Joe Caruso said. “For a kid that’s just a sophomore, he showed really good composure. We knew hits were going to be tough to come by.”
The Pioneers quickly got in a comfort zone in the bottom of the first. Houchins was hit by a pitch and scored the tying run on a triple by Hunter Hertig. Stoots drove in the go-ahead run with a single and Smith launched his two-run shot and the Pioneers were on their way.
“Big win. The kids came in with their heads on ready to play ball,” Adams said. “When we gave up the home run in the first inning, I think that woke them up a little. Matthew pitched well after that and we hit the ball well the whole day.”
Lebanon faces defending state champion Page County on Friday at 10 a.m. in the state semifinals at Radford University.
Appomattox 100 000 0—1 5 0
Lebanon 442 401 x—15 13 1
Hamlett, Johnson (2), Reid (6) and Olimpio. Buchanan, White (6) and Hertig. W—Buchanan. L—Hamlett. HR—Olimpio (A), 1st none on; Smith (L), 1st, one on; Steele (L), 2nd, two on.