With a steady drizzle in the first half of play turning into a straight up rainy evening in the second, what should have been a sloppy, muddy, messy affair between the Goochland and Poquoson baseball teams ended up in a fantastic pitcher’s duel. The margin for error was slim and in the end, an RBI groundout was the difference for the Bulldogs as they survived the Region 2A quarterfinals with a 1-0 win.
“That was a tight game and I thought we squandered a few opportunities but with the field conditions, they made big plays when they had to and we did too,” said Goochland coach Wes Farkas. “Whenever it’s raining like that you never know how much command a pitcher is going to have with a wet ball… I thought one or two pitches might really change the game.”
The story of the day for Goochland was Wyatt Murray on the mound. The Bulldogs’ senior lefty spun himself a gem with a complete game shutout. And more over, it was a 4-hitter with no walks and 10 strikeouts along the way.
“It was awesome,” Murray said. “Pressure pitching is probably your most favorite thing — you know as a pitcher that you’ve got to make pitches. That’s your biggest thing, you’re trying to pitch to make outs. You’re not trying to pitch for strikeouts. You’re not pitching with a 10-0 lead where you can afford to make a few bad pitches. You have to make the best pitches at all times.”
Murray only ran into trouble once, with the Islanders’ Kyle Jackson getting a double with one out in the sixth. But on a line drive to second the Bulldogs defense came up with a double play to end the inning with second basemen Zac Harlow being at the right place at the right time.. Jackson was the only Poquoson base runner to reach scoring position all game.
“The defense, I love playing with these guys and I’ve been doing it since I was nine years old,” Murray said. “We turned that double play in the sixth thanks to (Harlow), I mean the kid hit a shot to our second basemen, right to him and he just flipped two and that was a big spark for me.”
With Andrew Holloway pitching just as well on the other side for the Islanders, baserunners were equally tough to come by for Goochland. He gave up just two hits in four innings of work. Reliever Sean Conners gave up just one hit in two innings and worked himself out of a bases loaded jam with nobody out in the bottom of the sixth to keep things at 1-0.
The Bulldogs picked up the game’s only run in the third. Joey Ramsbottom doubled with one out and then stole third base. A groundout from John King plated Ramsbottom with no contesting throw to the plate and then that was it for scoring. And just enough for Murray to make things work. And to say that conditions changed between the first four innings and the three that followed is putting it mildly.
“It was a little tough at the beginning trying to get the ball gripped and my pitches working,” Murray said. “(Then) my cleats got super muddy. Picking my foot up, as weird as it sounds, the weight messes up your balance a bit. I had to adjust to that.”
Goochland will wait for its opportunity to make a third state tournament run in as many years in the Region 2A semifinals. The Bulldogs will get Prince Edward . But having faced a truly gritty Poquoson team has Goochland back in routine playoff mode.
“To win a playoff game is the best feeling in the world,” Murray said.