Dillard, Dulin push Orange baseball past Louisa

On most days Louisa County’s Jake Seay would have been credited for at least an RBI double to put his team ahead in the fourth inning. Yet thanks to an incredible diving catch made by Lonnie Dillard, the play went down as an inning-ending fly out that kept the game tied.

Dillard’s Orange County squad built on that momentum and put together a 3-run rally in the top of the fifth to break the game open between the two close rivals, allowing the Hornets to pick up a 5-3 win over the Lions.

“That’s as good a catch you’ll see at any level,” said Orange coach Brian Rasnick. “We preach making plays and have an outfield especially in left and in center that should give a pitcher confidence to just throw strikes.”

With the game tied at two, a runner on third and a two outs, Seay was robbed of an extra-hit as Dillard, just a sophomore, flew from the middle of left field to making a jaw-dropping diving catch just inches inside fair territory deep down the line.

“All I wanted to do was make a play,” Dillard said. “I did it knowing that my team would have my back  no matter what happened. I wanted it. I was holding on to that and not letting go.”

The web-gem came just an inning after fellow teammate and centerfielder Tyler Seal made a diving catch of his own on a shot to the gap in left-center that looked like it was going to end in a collision course between he and Dillard.

“They made two ridiculous plays in the outfield,” said Louisa coach Kevin Fisher. “They took away some hits and perhaps some runs.”

Dillard then picked up a single, saw Rahiem Cooper reach base after getting hit by a pitch and David Dulin come up to drive in both runners on a single followed by a fielding error to make it 4-2 in the fifth.

“It’s my senior year and I guess I’m just feeling it,” Dulin said. “There’s something about this year whever everything’s clicking. I’ve been practicing a lot in the offseason and I think that’s paying off.”

Two batters later Zach Reininger made it a 3-run lead on an RBI single.

That’s all the run support Orange needed as Mitchell King came in in relief of Antonio Murphy. King pitched his way out of a bases loaded jam with one out in the bottom of the fifth and then worked through the seventh after an error and two singles including an RBI hit from Robbert Terrell. King earned the save for the effort.

The Hornets took a 1-0 lead in the first on a triple from Cooper and RBI single from Dulin. However, Louisa answered in the third. Jacob Connelly reached base on a walk, stole second, was given third on a balk. Dylan Wratchford brought Connelly in and then scored himself on a pair of throwing errors all in the same play.

In the top of the fourth Reininger provided the game’s hardest hit ball when he hit a solo homerun to right field that knotted the game at two.

Louisa starting pitcher Johnnie Lowery was solid in five innings, giving up just two earned runs while piling up six strikeouts. Reliever Jeremy Parshall gave up one hit in relief between the seven batters he faced.

“We’re getting better and we’re going to keep working and that’s what I keep telling the guys,” said Louisa coach Kevin Fisher. “That’s where we’re at right now.”

Dulin finished the night 2 for 4 with three RBI to keep his season batting average at .500. Cooper was 3 for 3 with two runs scored.

Orange (4-5, 3-2 Jefferson District) hosts William Monroe on Friday in a pivotal match at 7:30 p.m.

Louisa (0-5, 0-5) looks to pick up its first win on the road against Charlottesville also on Friday at 7:30 p.m.