By Liz Keller / Scrimmageplay.com contributor
In a historic week for Goochland baseball in which two former Bulldogs — Justin Verlander and John Hicks — were battery mates for the Detroit Tigers, the program could not have picked a better time to highlight this year’s edition.
Goochland, which knocked off King William in the Region 2A East quarterfinals on Monday, kept up the pace Wednesday, as it upended Page County 5-3 to advance to advance to the region championship and earn a spot in the state tournament.
According to Goochland coach Wes Farkas, things are falling into place at just the right time.
“We’ve been up and down all year, but I knew we had the team to do this if we just put it together,” Farkas said. “And on Monday we were starting to really put it together and the guys are really enjoying it now and so am I. I don’t want to lose momentum. I told [the team], let’s not just look to next week, let’s get another win.”
Wyatt Murray was solid on the mound for the Bulldogs, keeping the Panthers scoreless through four innings. The junior helped himself out at the plate, belting a triple in the second and later scoring off a Jeb Anderson sacrifice to give Goochland an early lead.
With two outs in the third, Frank Mayosky got things going with an RBI triple. Wyatt Murray and Anderson added RBI singles as the Bulldogs built a 4-0 advantage.
Page County responded with a pair of runs in the fifth off an RBI single from Chase Combs. With the bases loaded, Murray was able to escape without any more damage, as he got Jacob Day, the cleanup batter, to strike out to end the inning. Murray recorded eight strikeouts and scattered seven hits over six innings.
The visitors cut the lead to one in the sixth as Tristan Gordon scored on a fielder’s choice. With the tying run on third, Murray again came to the rescue, tagging Joshua Good out at the plate after a passed ball.
“He caught a curveball, and my curveball had been dying today — I don’t know what was going on with it. I spiked another one and luckily it took a good bounce towards us,” Murray said. “Our catcher [Stephen Roberts] came back and threw it and I just tried to put it right in front of his feet and luckily he slid right into it.”
Goochland added an insurance run in the sixth off Zac Harlow’s triple to right field field. Tyler Gentry shut down the Panthers to close out the game.
The Bulldogs, state runners-up last season, will entertain Madison County, winners over Randolph-Henry, in Friday’s championship. The state tournament begins June 9 at Radford University.
“There’s a couple of guys who are hungry to get back there,” Farkas said of the return trip to Radford. “We’re glad to get another chance, and hopefully we’ll rewrite the story.”