CHATHAM, Va. – Over the past four years, John Battle left-hander Landon Moore vanquished foes with a deceptive fastball and a fearless approach on the mound.
The path of destruction for the 5-foot-8 left-hander finally ended in Tuesday’s VHSL Class 2 baseball quarterfinals at Chatham High School.
Powerful Chatham right-hander Andrew Potojecki crafted a one-hit shutout as the Cavaliers recorded a 5-0 victory.
“It’s been a great career,” Moore said. “I just wish that I could have finished things out for these guys. We all wanted to do something special.”
The first inning spelled doom for Battle as the Cavaliers (22-4) scored three runs on three walks, two hits and one hit-batsman.
“It was a combination of nerves and just excitement from competing in the state tournament,” Moore said.
Potojecki displayed why he is coveted by Longwood University. Relying on a fastball, curve and slider while tinkering with his pitch sequences, Potejecki struck out 10 walking two while keeping his pitch count under 100.
“Out hitting approach left something to be desired but Potojecki commanded the zone well. He’s a Division 1 pitcher,” John Battle coach Jimmy Gobble said.
Nolan Sailor collected the lone hit for Battle with a line single in the third inning.
Moore, whose fastball tailed away from hitters, allowed six hits while striking out two and walking six.
“And I think four runs scored on those walks,” Gobble said. “There were some emotion there early and some things we needed to overcome as a program. But the way Landon battled back and minimized his pitches against a very good hitting team over six innings was pretty impressive.”
The Trojans played flawless defense with leftfielder Bryson Almany, shortstop Zane Poe and second baseman Zach Smith all converting difficult chances.
“I was very pleased with how we played defense and communicated,” Gobble said.
From his first pitch until the last, Potojecki never changed his all-business expression.
“Before a game, I’m cool and everything,” said Potojecki, whose brother pitched four years at Longwood. “But as soon as I get on that mound, it’s like a flip is switched and it stays on until the game is over. Tonight, my mentality was to just go right at hitters.”
For the season, Potojecki has an earned run average of under 1.00 with 77 strikeouts.
“Andrew is a bulldog on the mound and we’ve relied on him all year,” said Chatham coach Chad Anderson, a professional golfer who has competed on several tours. “He pounded the zone well tonight.”
In that decisive first inning for Chatham, Brae Adkins drove in a run on a base-loaded walk, Potojecki delivered a run-scoring sacrifice fly and Hunter Adkins added a run-scoring double. The Cavs left the bases loaded.
“Honesty, my game plan was to just do what we do and hope that was enough,” Anderson said.
Anderson coached a local branch of the Dirtbags travel ball organization last summer and fall. He said that five of his seniors who played on that travel squad plan to compete at colleges such as Ferrum, Averett and Patrick Henry Community College.
“I’ve known these guys all their lives,” Anderson said. “We’ve grown a lot together.”
Chatham punctuated the victory with two runs in the sixth inning as Matt Arnold drove in a run with his second hit
Battle will graduate just three seniors in Eli Todd, Evan Smith and Moore
“With my being a baseball guy, our practices are fairly intense,” Gobble said. “We ask a lot of our young men and the guys on this team hold a special place in my heart for the effort they gave. They always focused on what this program was moving forward.”
Moore paid credit to his teammates after his last appearance in a Battle uniform.
“My teammates helped me up after that first inning,” Moore said. “They knew that I could get back into it. Once I settled down and got my strike zone leveled, I was fine.”
Moore pitched Battle to the 2A finals in 2017.
“I was just thankful for to have another opportunity at state this season,” Moore said. “I kind of forgot how bad it hurts, but it’s tough.”
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Chatham 5, John Battle 0
John Battle 000 000 0—0 1 0
Chatham 300 002 x—5 6 0
Moore and Todd. Potojecki and Arnold. W-Potojecki. L-Moore. HR-none.