LOUISA — The second half of the Jefferson District slate didn’t go the way Fluvanna baseball team had planned, although, it was essentially played in a four day span last week. But the beauty of the post season tournament format is that if you play your best when it matters, big things can happen.
Going up against Monticello, the top seed of the JD tournament, the Flucos arguably played their best game of their season to keep their season alive thanks to an 11-3 win in the semifinals to earn a shot at a Region II tourney.
“We went up to the plate with a plan, not to chase the first pitch, to chase bad pitches, we were going to work up the count,” said Fluvanna coach Mike Sheridan. “We did a great job there and I thought we ran the bases extremely well and we got timely hitting. We got back to the things we did at the beginning of the year and it’s fun to be around the field right now.”
With Max Turner delivering a clutch showing on the mound and the Flucos offense rallying for big tallies in the third and fourth innings, Fluvanna was able to take a substantial lead midway through their third meeting with the Mustangs.
Fluvanna broke the scoreless tie in the top of the third when Davin Biggs was hit by a pitch with one out. Walks to Cody Herndon and Jovan Burton loaded the bases for Dylon Garrett to deliver a RBI single and Turner to do the same in the next at bat. A passed ball and 2-run single from Austin Foster gave the Flucos a 5-0 lead.
“Our approach was to be patient and not swing at everything we see,” Burton said. “We’re just starting to click again. We got off to a good start in the season and towards the middle and the end of the season we lost track of being the team that we were, stringing hits together against a team like this. I don’t think the district has been this close at the top in a while so we just have to play hard every night. We know that.”
Monticello, which is no stranger to wild comebacks both this season and last with its core group of talent, made it a 5-2 game on an RBI single from Alex McNair and an RBI groundout from Justin Flavarakis in the bottom of the third.
But the Flucos responded in the fourth by putting up another 5-spot to truly take control of the game. Biggs started it off with a single and an RBI triple from Burton got Fluvanna rolling again. After a wild pitch and back-to-back walks, an RBI double from Foster made it 8-2. Harrison then came through with an RBI single and Mason Barringer wore a pitch with the bases loaded to turn it into an 8-run game.
“It’s high school baseball and any given day anything can happen,” said Monticello assistant coach Pete O’Malley. “You show up to the park and today it just didn’t go our way, that was it.”
The two teams traded runs between the bottom of the fifth and top of the sixth, but the large margin was more than enough for Turner to work with as he threw six innings to earn the win.
“The last game I played against Western I was absolutely awful and my dad and I talked about it,” Turner said. “I kept trying to throw my fastball by the batter and tonight my dad and I talked about mixing it up, throwing one faster, slower, changing up the pitches… that one inning of hitting though, that was relief. It was good team hitting.”
Monticello, by virtue of its regular season title, will be the second seed in the Region II tournament and host a game next week.
“This is just a bump in the road, it’s one game and so that’s how you try and look at it,” O’Malley said. “We get on the bus tonight and go to practice tomorrow. We’ll look towards Monday, not look behind. When you get two strikes on you don’t think about the last pitch, you think about the one that’s coming, you’ve still got one more strike to go.”
Fluvanna will face Powhatan, a team it split the regular season with on Thursday at Louisa County at 6 p.m. for the right to the last Region II bid.