After a 1-6 start to the season put them behind in the standings early, the Goochland Bulldogs have steadily built on each performance and in the process risen in the district standings in time for the postseason.
Goochland closed the regular season with an 8-4 record and a three-game winning streak, a season-best for the Bulldogs, which has given them a 9-11 record entering the Class 3, Region B Tournament. Awaiting them is a matchup against the Caroline Cavaliers, who beat the Bulldogs in their season-opener 12-2 and are winners of three of their last four games.
While Caroline is entering with its own momentum, Goochland is playing well, ending the last week of the regular season with wins over Orange County (2-1), Albermarle (11-10) and Louisa County (6-3).
The win against Orange County was Goochland’s second of the season against the Hornets. Before weather halted play in the bottom of the fourth, senior Graham-Michael Fletcher-Mintz contributed to the first run by reaching base on an error while D.J. Jones got home for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third.
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The Hornets tied the game in the top of the fourth and freshman Will Johns made the play of the day, hitting a line drive single for an RBI that got senior John Summitt home for what would be the game-winning run.
The next day, the Bulldogs handled a shootout affair against the Albemarle Patriots, starting the game with a rocket blast down left field by freshman Jackson Bell for a two-run home run in the first inning. The Patriots tied soon after, but RBI singles from Summitt and senior Chase Breedlove put the Bulldogs ahead again with a 4-2 lead by the top of the second.
A six-run third inning pushed them ahead to 10-2, with three consecutive walks with bases loaded adding to the Goochland lead before a three-run RBI triple from Jones cracked open the advantage to eight runs.
A flurry of runs in the third and fourth innings cut the lead to 10-8 entering the top of the fifth, but a sacrifice fly from Bell gave the Bulldogs just enough wiggle room to hold off two more Patriots runs in the bottom of the sixth. When senior Reese Vincent entered as the closing pitcher in the sixth, he tossed two crucial strikeouts to end the inning. Two batters were walked in the seventh, but the Bulldogs earned their three outs to hold off the late comeback.
There was again no breaks between games in the final week, as the Bulldogs traveled to play Louisa County and started off with a 2-0 lead early thanks to a balk by the pitcher and an RBI single from Fletcher-Mintz. The Lions took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth, but the Bulldogs were already prepared to battle to the end, recapturing the lead with a run by Bell on a groundout and a two-run RBI single on a hit from A.J. Condrey.
Another balk led to Goochland’s sixth run of the day in the top of the seventh, and with the defense needing to close out in the bottom of the final frame, Breedlove took care of business with two strikeouts to give Goochland its third win in as many days.