LEBANON, Va. – It was another dominating performance from Lebanon sophomore Matthew Buchanan who quickly set the tone for the game.
The smooth left-hander, using effortless motion, tossed a no-hitter shutting out the Virginia High Bearcats, 3-0, on Tuesday in a Southwest District baseball showdown.
“Tip your hat to Mr. Buchanan,” Virginia High coach Mark Daniels said. “He did a tremendous job. We couldn’t put the ball in play, you can’t put the ball in play, you can’t win games.”
Virginia High had two baserunners. Buchanan hit a batter in the second inning and issued a walk in the seventh inning. He totaled 16 strikeouts and finished with five 1-2-3 innings.
“I felt good,” Buchanan said. “All three pitches were working pretty good, I just did what I knew I had to do. I knew this team would have my back.
“It was a good win. We needed to get this win to keep on moving and go for the next game.”
Buchanan would get all the runs he would need in the first inning. Leading off, he hit an infield pop-up that was dropped as he reached first base safely. Anthony Houchins was up next and on a 1-1 pitch, he hit a screaming liner over the fence in left-center for a two-run homer.
“[VHS hurler Jordan Dixon] had pitched me up before, so I was expecting a pitch up,” said Houchins. “I just tried to put the barrel on the ball, and it happened. As I rounded first, I saw the left fielder only took a couple steps, so I knew it was gone after that.”
With the two-run cushion, Buchanan quickly settled in. After hitting Justin Lewis, he retired the next 15 batters he faced.
“The early lead was really important,” Buchanan said. “There’s nothing like having your hitters behind you. I was able to go out there and have fun, just compete.”
Jordan Dixon was the tough-luck loser for the Bearcats. He threw the ball well, showing a devastating curve and finished with 10 strikeouts.
“He pitched well enough to win,” Daniels said. “But offensively we couldn’t put the ball in play, that’s two years in a row he’s no-hit us.”
Buchanan continued to add to his very impressive resume. In 12 career varsity starts, he has thrown six no-hitters. This season he has won seven games and allowed a total of two runs, only one of which has been earned.
Lebanon (16-1, 9-0) has now won 10 consecutive contests. This was the first game of a two-game series this week to determine the SWD championship. The second game will be Thursday with a 7 p.m. first pitch at DeVault Stadium.
“We’re on top right now, but we have one more to go,” Lebanon coach Doc Adams said. “We have to stay focused, stay composed, we know what we have to do. This was just one game, we were at the same place last year. Hopefully we’re a little wiser, we know we still have to go to Bristol.”
Virginia High (10-8, 8-1) will have an opportunity to force a playoff game.
“We’ll go back to work tomorrow and see what happens on Thursday,” said Daniels.