Fluco baseball wins on run rule to go to region finals

By Duncan Nixon

After a one day rain delay, the third seeded Fluco baseball team hosted the seventh seeded Fort Defiance High team on May 31. For those not familiar with “the Valley,” Fort Defiance High is located in a small town of that name, halfway between Harrisonburg to the north and Staunton to the south.

For this crucial game Fluco coach Joel Gray called on senior Joe Gomez, one of his aces on the mound, to carry the Flucos into the region 3C finals. Gomez, who is a Virginia Commonwealth University commit, did not disappoint. He allowed a hit in the first inning, and freshman shortstop Sam Loving backed him up, throwing out three batters at first. In the following five innings, Gomez gave up two walks and no more hits. He struck out nine. The defensive play of the game came in the third inning, when sophomore catcher Sam Loving made a wonderful diving catch in foul territory, on a bunt attempt by the Indians. Gomez retired the next 11batters, striking out seven of them.

Meanwhile, the Fluco offense was taking full advantage of the Indians’ hurler’s inability to find the plate. The Flucos scored three runs in the second inning and one in the third. Three of the four who scored for the Flucos reached base on walks. The Flucos made it 5-0 in the fifth. This time the man who scored reached first on a hit by pitch. The Flucos ended the game in the bottom of the sixth by scoring five runs for a 10-0 lead. With one out, the Indians pitchers walked four batters in a row. A base hit by sophomore Jackson Fields was followed by the fifth walk of the inning, and when the Indians’ center fielder dropped a fly ball, two runs scored for a 10-0 lead that ended the game without the seventh inning being played. 

The Flucos did not get a lot of hits in this game, but clearly did not need them. Senior Nathan Gragg had a two run double in the second that produced all the runs the Flucos would need. Fields was two for three with a walk, while Loving had a single and three walks, reaching base four out of five times, exactly what you want from a lead-off batter. 

On Thursday June 1, the Flucos fell in the Region final, losing for the third time this season to the undefeated team from Liberty Christian Academy of Lynchburg. The final score was 7-2. The Flucos made the state tournament by reaching the Region final. They played their first game in the state tournament on the road on June 6.

Coach Gray will have a number of starters back next season but will have to find some new pitchers as Gomez, co-ace J. J. Glasscock and Gragg are all seniors. 

The Flucos played their first game in the state tournament on the road on June 6, after this week’s edition went to press. The Flucos played at Cave Spring High School in Roanoke. A win in that game will put them in the semi-final on June 9 against the winner of Caroline High vs. Lakeland High.

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