Dating back to 2014, whenever Fluvanna County has played at Louisa County, it’s been a 1-run game. It’s a Jefferson District rivalry that has always had its fair share of nail biters, long before this recent trend. On Friday night the Flucos come out on the winning side of of yet another 1-run game, edging the Lions 8-7 thanks to a 3-run rally in the top of the seventh and reliever Kyle Algeri wrapping things up in order in the bottom half of the inning.
“Our games with Louisa always end with somebody in physical pain because they’re so stressful,” said Flucos coach Joel Gray. “Louisa is so well coached but we’re growing as a baseball team. We’re so young but we’re buying in and this was a great week for us, beating Monticello, Orange and Louisa. We’re hitting. If you strikeout five times or less you’re supposed to win 88 percent of the time. Tonight we only had three strikeouts. Of course Louisa didn’t strikeout much either so it was just two good baseball teams out there tonight.”
With the Lions up 7-5 going into the seventh, Fluvanna got the rally started with Dashon Carter earning a leadoff walk and Ryan Groome getting hit by a pitch to put the tying runner on first. Two batters later, Jacob Critzer singled to load the bases with one out. An Algeri single brought in Carter to make it 7-6. Then a sacrifice fly from Andrew Ward tied things up at 7-7. Then after a walk to load the bases again, Critzer was able to swipe home on a wild pitch to give Fluvanna the 8-7 lead. The Flucos drew another walk to again load the bases, but a stikeout in the next at bat ended the spree.
“We were just thinking about getting a couple of shots in and getting everyone on base,” Critzer said. “This was a major confidence booster. We just want to keep pushing the pedal and not let up.”
The Lions earned their 2-run lead thanks a 5-run rally in the bottom of the fourth. A Garret Duason single followed by back-to-back walks loaded the bases with one out. A strikeout put the Flucos in striking distance of getting out of the jam unharmed. However a walk plated Duason to make it 4-2. Then Lliam Grubbs brought in a run when he reached on an error. The Lions took a 6-4 lead in the next at bat with John McDonald ripping a 3-run triple.
“That showed a lot of heart,” said Louisa coach Kevin Fisher. “Those are hits with two strikes there. (With McDonald) I couldn’t tell if it was a pitch that was hung or if Jack just barrelled it up. But in an 0-2 count to get that, it was big.”
Both teams traded runs in the sixth with Fluvanna getting an RBI double from Chris Shields and Louisa getting an RBI single from Grubbs to set up the drama of the seventh.
The Lions were the first team on the board, scoring in the bottom of the first with an RBI single from McDonald. However, the Flucos answered with four on board in the second. There Kevin Ward singled, Andrew Ward reached on an error and Cameron Shields singled all to lead things off. With Trey Lyons reaching on a error the game was tied at 1-1. A Noah Brown RBI single gave the Flucos their first lead. Shields then scored on an error and Carter was able to come up with a sacrifice fly to make ti 4-1.
On the night, Shields was the only Fluco with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Andrew Ward was 1-for-3 with two runs score and an RBI. The Flucos had six different batters earn an RBI.
Algeri picked up the win in his 3 and one third innings pitched. He gave up one earned run and just two hits while striking out four.
“A lot of people don’t have Kyle Algeri on the radar but he had a 0.52 ERA last year, of course he was throwing changeups 70 percent of the time,” Gray said. “This year his changeup might not be the same, but I’ll tell you what, his breaking ball and fastball has more velocity so I’m taking it. When he gets that great changeup from last year back, watch out.”
For Louisa, McDonald was 2-for-4 with four RBI. Grubbs was also 2-for-4 with an RBI. Austin Nichols picked up the no decision on the mound. He settled in nicely after the second, retiring 10 of 11 batters between the third and sixth. He pitched six innings total.
The Flucos (6-1) will host Goochland on Monday at 6 p.m. while the Lions (8-2) host Powhatan on Tuesday. And with the Flucos and Indians both unbeaten and Louisa and Albemarle sitting at 1-loss in the standings, after the second week in April it’s fair to say that the spirit of last year’s remarkable season of parity in the Jefferson District is back, still alive and kicking.
“I hate saying it but I have for years — I don’t think the Jefferson District gets the same recognition across the state in baseball as it does in our other sports,” Fisher said. “We’re so competitive right now, there are so many good arms.”
— scrimmageplay (@scrimmageplay) April 14, 2018