FINCASTLE – The Lord Botetourt and James River baseball teams warmed up for district play by playing each other last week in the second game of a home-and-home series. This one was at LB and the Cavaliers won a pitchers’ duel, 2-0, to sweep the season series.
Botetourt’s Michael Mnich and River’s Brandon Welch both pitched well in a game that flew by. The Cavaliers scored one run in the third and another in the fourth on a Brian Ward home run to open a 2-0 lead, and that would be all the scoring. Welch went all six innings for River, allowing just four hits and striking out five.
Mnich went the first four innings for the Cavaliers, giving up just one hit and fanning four. Zack Kelly worked the final three innings for a save, giving up three hits. Justin Stevers, Jaret White, Mitchell Lanning and Welch had one hit each for River. Ward had two hits and six total bases for LB with a homer and a double.
The Cavaliers continued their winning ways on Friday with a 5-3 win over Blacksburg at home. Ashby Humbert pitched six innings and got the win and Ryan Oliver picked up a save. Dylan Powers was three for four with a home run after going three-for-three with a homer in a 15-8 win over Salem early in the week. Powers had three home runs on the season, and Conner Bronson and Humbert also went yard for the Cavaliers in the win over Blacksburg.
The win lifted LB to 6-1 on the season with a game at home against Franklin County on Tuesday. On Thursday Botetourt will open the Blue Ridge District season at William Byrd in what promises to be a tight race. Through last week Byrd was 5-2, Alleghany was 6-1 and Northside was unbeaten in seven games.
“We’re 6-1, but we’re still not hitting like we’re capable,” said LB coach Todd Smith.
James River was scheduled to open the Pioneer District season at home against Bath County on Tuesday. The Knights are at Parry McCluer on Thursday for a district game.
River was just 2-6 through last week but the Knights have played a tough schedule.
“We’ve had no rest in the non-district schedule, and hopefully that will help us when we get into our district games,” said coach Harry Falls.
Last Friday at home the Knights dropped a 10-5 game to Staunton River after leading 5-1 into the fourth. The Eagles touched River for six runs in the top of the fourth to take the lead as Colin Guilliams took the loss. White, Lanning and Kaleb Gunter all pitched in relief.
At the plate, Keith Yancey had a good day for the Knights. He was two-for-three with a single and a double and drove in a run. He also reached base on a hit by pitch and was credited with a sacrifice. White had a hit and scored two runs.
White was scheduled to pitch Tuesday’s game with Bath, and Guilliams will likely go against Parry McCluer on Thursday.