Warriors edge out Monarchs

Published 8:13 pm Thursday, May 31, 2012

Senior Nansemond River outfielder Willie Gillus slides safely home during the fourth inning of Thursday's playoff win over Menchville High School. The Warriors' 6-5 win moves them into tonight's Eastern Division Championship final at 6 p.m. at Old Dominion University.

By Tray Mason

Correspondent

NORFOLK — In a game where the outcome was in question up until the final out, Nansemond River High School defeated Menchville High School 6-5 to advance into the championship game of the Eastern Region Tournament.

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After going down by as many as three runs in the third inning, 4-1, the Warriors came storming back — or rather walking back — to get back in the game in the fourth inning.

They scored four runs in the fourth, but only one of those runs came via an RBI.

Zach Vann sent a double to centerfield that ended up being a triple after Menchville’s Hunter Webster slipped while attempting to field the ball. Brandon Lowe would score on the play after a leadoff walk in the inning.

Kyle Moore reached first base on a fielder’s choice, followed by Colin O’Brien and Ryan O’Hara, who both walked, with two outs already recorded.

Moore crossed home plate after a wild pitch from Garrett Chrismon, and the Warriors trailed by just one run, 4-3.

Chrismon would then be sat down, and the Monarchs brought in Malik Mitchell for relief, although he wouldn’t fare much better against the patient batting of the Warriors.

NR put up two more runs, one on a bases loaded walk and another on a wild pitch, and they led 5-4 when the inning was over.

They tacked on one more run in the fifth inning, this time another RBI from Vann on a ground-rule double to take a 6-4 lead.

It was a tremendous swing of events after a disastrous start for NR and starting pitcher Zach Rice.

In the first inning, Rice started the game throwing eight consecutive balls to walk the first two batters. The Monarchs would score on a sacrifice bunt to tie the game 1-1 after the first inning.

Rice again walked the first two batters on the second inning, and the Monarchs again capitalized.

Deshaun Hewitt hit a shot down the leftfield line to give Menchville a 2-1 lead.

Rice was taken out in the third inning after hitting the first batter of the inning, then walking the next two to load the bases.

Ty Brown, who pitched a complete game on Monday, was brought in for relief.

Erick Weinreich hit a double to centerfield that brought home two Monarch runners and gave the team a 4-1 lead.

Brown ended the inning on a pickoff play at second base, which seemed to give him some confidence.

After giving up the two runs in the third, he retired eight consecutive Monarchs before giving up a run in the sixth inning.

In the seventh and final inning, he gave up a double and walked another batter to put the tying and game winning runs on base with no outs.

He then worked his way out of the jam unscathed to seal the game.

“He wouldn’t let me bring him out of the game,” said Warriors head coach Mark Stuffell. “I thought about it a lot but he would let me. He’s my guy I can count on.”

With the win, the Warriors advance into the championship game of the Eastern Region Tournament for the second year in a row. More importantly, they clinch a second consecutive state tournament berth, with a chance to host the first round.

They play the winner of the Kellam and Great Bridge matchup Friday at 6 p.m. at Old Dominion.