Down by five runs after just two innings against Charlottesville, Western Albemarle could’ve easily panicked.
Down by one run with just a half inning left, the Warriors could’ve lost their composure.
Western’s young roster never even got rattled.
“I never got any feeling from our group that anything other than what happened was going to happen,” said Western coach Skip Hudgins. “That’s a really good sign.”
That level-headed approach paid off as Western rallied with a pair of seventh-inning runs to grab a 6-5 victory over Charlottesville in the Warriors’ Jefferson District opener.
Charlottesville jumped on Western, scoring five runs in the first two innings. Dale Richardson, Andrew Chambers and Luke Henry had an RBI each in that stretch. But Jack Maynard stepped in to pitch for the Warriors and the sophomore managed to stem the tide locking down the Black Knights. He entered in the second with two on and got out of the jam. He then threw five scoreless innings from that point on.
“He did a really great job coming in and stopping the bleeding and holding it to that point,” Hudgins said.
That set the stage for the rally in the bottom of the seventh after Western chipped away at the Charlottesville lead. In the seventh, No. 3 hitter Steven Mangrum led off the inning and produced a bloop single to shallow left over the shortstop’s head.
“That was the best at bat we’ve had all year,” Hudgins said. “That was an at bat where he said ‘I’m not going to lose this battle.’ He fought off some really tough pitches.”
It picked up from there for the Warriors as Maynard followed with another single to left and then Eli Sumpter broke through with a hit toward short that forced an error on the throw to first. Mangrum scored on the error. After an intentional walk, Daniel Kuzjak stepped to the plate, and on a passed ball, Nate Rondeau, who was running for Maynard sped home to cap the rally.
Sumpter went 4 for 4 on the night (his hit in the seventh was a single with an error on the throw) to lead the Warriors while Maynard had three total hits himself.
Eli Haden went 3 for 3 and reached base on his other at bat to set the pace for the Black Knights.
Western continues its Jefferson District slate on the road against Louisa County at 7 p.m. while Charlottesville heads to Monticello the same night for another critical district clash.