Stonewall blasts its way past William Campbell in Conference 44 quarterfinal

NEW MARKET – A year ago, Stonewall Jackson High School’s baseball team needed a walk-off single in the 10th inning to beat William Campbell in the Conference 44 tournament quarterfinal game. The Generals required no such late-inning heroics in the rematch of that exact game on Thursday afternoon.

Stonewall, the fourth seed in this year’s tournament, erupted for an eight-run second inning and a five-run fourth to blast its way through No. 5 William Campbell for a 14-1 victory at Rebel Park that ended in the fifth inning due to the mercy rule. The win sends Stonewall into a Conference 44 semifinal matchup at top-seeded Riverheads next Tuesday.

Eight different players recorded at least one hit and scored a run for Stonewall and seven different starters had an RBI in the victory, which head coach Mike Lenox said was one of the best collective hitting performances the Generals (10-10) have pieced together this spring.

“We had good rounds in (batting practice),” Stonewall senior shortstop Cole Holsinger said, “which really carried over to the game. One through nine, everybody hit today and that’s what got us runs. We hit them early and that’s what kept us in the game.”

Stonewall came out aggressively swinging against William Campbell (1-17) starting pitcher Andre Reid, as the Generals battered the junior right-hander for nine runs on nine hits over just 1 1/3 innings while seeing only 33 pitches.

Reid needed only eight pitches to get out of the bottom of the first inning but found himself trailing 1-0 after Stonewall struck for a run and a pair of hits.

“I’ve been preaching all year when the ball is there, swing at it. Be aggressive, attack the balls in the zone,” Lenox said.

“We had a pretty good day of practice and the last game we had we played pretty well, against Luray (on Tuesday) we started hitting the ball pretty well. I told them to attack the fastball early. He wasn’t throwing much off-speed for strikes, and once that started happening it puts more pressure on him.”

William Campbell knotted the score with a run off Stonewall starter Nick Dotson in the top of the second, but Stonewall came back in the bottom half with eight runs on seven hits to blow the game open.

The outburst started with back-to-back singles from Brett Jones and Wyatt Estep, which put runners on the corners and set up David Moomaw’s sacrifice fly to left for the go-ahead run.

Run-scoring singles from Dotson and Dylan Vann and Tyler Somers’ bloop base hit loaded the bases, and Holsinger – who signed to play baseball at Garrett College earlier Thursday – ripped a long single off the wall in left field that sent two runs across the plate for a five-run lead.

Stonewall junior Matt Dove made it 9-1 two pitches later when he unloaded on a 1-0 offering from Reid and blasted a three-run home run to left.

“I was just looking for my pitch,” said Dove, whose homer ended Reid’s day on the mound. “I saw the catcher set up outside, so I was looking for something outside. (Reid) missed it and I just jumped on it.”

Stonewall added five more runs to its lead in the fourth off freshman left-hander Bryce Mason, all with two outs.

The rally was nearly halted before a run crossed the plate but William Campbell left fielder Cody Cash couldn’t complete a tumbling grab on Estep’s RBI bloop single that pushed the lead to nine runs.

Two batters later, Stonewall No. 9 hitter Logan Ritchie stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and yanked an 0-2 pitch down the third-base line for a three-run triple. Ritchie then scored on William Campbell’s sixth error of the game to give Stonewall a 14-1 lead.

“We usually have more of a conservative approach but we were more aggressive today and that paid off for us,” Dove said.

Dotson, Holsinger (double), Dove and Estep each had two hits to lead Stonewall’s 12-hit attack.

Dotson, who pitched all five innings for Stonewall, settled in after giving up three singles – including an RBI hit from Eric Hanson – in the second inning that led to William Campbell’s only run.

Dotson retired the final nine batters he faced and limited William Campbell to just four hits and a walk while striking out two.

“I had a little talk with Nick, just told him to get after it,” Lenox said. “Sometimes I think he thinks too much about mechanics or how to hold this or what about this, instead of actually playing it. So I had a little conversation, just told him to get after it, if you walk somebody, hit somebody – full effort here. I think after about the third inning you could see his stuff was sharper, his stuff was harder. I think he settled in the way I’ve seen Nick pitch.”

Stonewall will now get another shot at Riverheads, which beat the Generals twice during the regular season by scores of 11-3 and 11-1. The winner of Tuesday’s Conference 44 semifinal game will earn a spot in the Region 1A East tournament.

“We’ve seen them twice and they haven’t seen our full lineup both times. We’ve had kids that were hurt and whatnot,” Lenox said. “I think they’re up for the challenge. I think they’re excited about it. We have a few days to get ready for it. I think that we match up well with them. It’s a tough place to play down there but I definitely think they’re looking forward to moving on. I think if we move on then we can win some games.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com