It was a defensive dog fight, one where eventually something had to give. Fork Union and Fluvanna County both picked up their first run by scraping something together. In the bottom of the eighth, the Flucos were able to take advantage of an error and pick up a 2-1 win after Ryan Goome came up with a walkoff single to plate Jack Kershner.
“Sometimes it’s ugly but you’ll take it,” said Fluvanna coach Joel Grey. “We scrapped and found a way. It’s funny, we’ve given up two runs this year and here today we were in a fight for our lives.”
While Kershner and Groome stole the show at the end, the story most of the night was the battle between pitching staffs. The Flucos picked up just five hits against the Blue Devils while the latter managed just three for themselves. Drue Hackenburg gave up just one hit in five shutout innings for Fork Union in a no decision. Shaun Holyfield got the start for Fluvanna and went 3.1 innings with three hits to six strikeouts. Noah Brown was masterful in relief, going 3.2 innings with just one hit and five strikeouts.
“We were blessed that Noah had his stuff and calmed us down,” Grey said. “He gave us a chance and I’ve been telling him, he’s our guy right now because he’s so consistent with his three pitches.”
Kyle Algeiri picked up the win in relief, getting out of a jam in the top of the eighth when Fork Union’s Josh Cosby came up with a 1-out double.
In the eight, Kershner led the inning off by getting on base after being hit by a pitch. Dashon Carter’s nine-pitch at-bat, Kershner was able to force a slew of pickoff attempts and the last one bit the Blue Devils as it rolled into right field. Kershner advanced to third. Groome came to the plate with one out and on the third pitch, he came up with a walkoff single to right-center.
Fork Union drew first blood in the third inning John Henry drew a leadoff walk. Zion Villies came up with a single and then Hackenburg reached on an error. With two outs and the bases loaded, Hayden Miles was hit by a pitch to plate Henry and make it 1-0.
“A ground ball here or a fly ball there and maybe it’s a different game,” said Fork Union coach Rogers Bowles. “I mean at the end you just say ‘What a great high school game.’ I told the kids I’m proud of the way they went out there and fought.”
Fluvanna picked up its first run in the bottom of the sixth. Jacob Critzer started the rally with a 1-out single. After a ground out advanced Critzer, Andrew Ward drew a walk on a wild pitch that put Critzer on third. It was there that the Flucos decided to run a double steal to knot the score up at 1-1. There Ward put himself in a rundown giving Critzer enough time to score before Ward was tagged out.
“We had to scratch and claw to run that play,” Grey said. “I mean it took a trick play to tie this thing up because we weren’t able to square up Hackenberg’s 2-seam fastball. He was running it in on our hands and was killing our righties.”
Fork Union (2-4) resumes play on April 13 on the road with Trinity Episcopal. Fluvanna (3-0) hosts Spotsylvania on Friday before taking another 10 day break and kicking off Jefferson District play on the road with Monticello on April 10.