Only pride was on the line in Bull Run District championship game, and thanks to severe weather, William Monroe’s third meeting with Strasburg was a short one, but just long enough to give the Dragons their third straight district title as they beat the Rams 5-3 with the game being called midway through the fifth inning.
“We played pretty good defense, got some good innings out of Jack Morris who we wanted to give some work to and a good inning from Jeff Early,” said Monroe coach Mike Maynard.
With Morris looking to bounce back after some late season soreness and also looking to put the Dragons in good position with the new pitching rules, Maynard threw his ace for just 56 pitches which worked out to three innings. The junior gave up just one run in the start.
The Rams broke the scoreless tie in the top of the third, but Monroe immediately bounced back to take a 3-1 lead in the bottom half of the inning highlighted by a 2-run double from Anthony Speneksa and an RBI single from Morris.
“Anthony’s had a great year hitting for us in the sixth hole, driven in 22 or 23 runs,” Maynard said. “Teams try and pitch around Keegan Woolford and Austin Batten (our three and four hitters) so Anthony and Jack have been big for us.”
Early, who hasn’t thrown much this year threw a shutout inning in the fourth. The Dragons made it 5-1 in the bottom half of that inning with Woolford nabbing an RBI double and Batten getting an RBI single. Strasburg made things interesting in the top of the fifth, getting to with two runs of the lead and loading the bases with one out. However sophomore reliever Dustin Knight got out of the jam with a 4-6-3 double-play from Speneksa to Batten to Early.
“It was a good turn on a high hop hit to Anthony who made the flip over Austin, a big play,” Maynard said. “Without that it’d have been 5-4 and they’d still have an out to work with.”
With lightning flashing in the distance, getting through the top of the fifth was critical, as both teams would have had to return to finish the game if Strasburg hadn’t come to the plate at least five times.
Monroe sits as the top seed for next week’s Region B tournament. The Dragons will host either Strasburg for a fourth time or Buckingham County on Monday at 7 p.m. depending on the results of the James River District final on Friday.