By Curtis Atkinson
Lynchburg (June 14, 2015) – All season long the Loudoun Valley High School baseball team had relied on pitching, defense and timely hitting to bring them back in close games.
On June 13, in the VHSL 3A state championship game against Lafayette High School, they came up one hit short.
Down 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh the Vikings had runners on first and second with two outs as senior Andrew Lohr came to the plate. Lohr already had the game-tying RBI in the fifth and had come on to pitch in a 4-0 hole in the fourth and stopped the bleeding.
Needing a base hit to tie it up again, Lohr chopped one back to the pitcher and Valley’s dreams of back-to-back state championships were thrown out at first base as the Rams stormed the field with a 5-4 victory.
This was a Loudoun Valley team that wasn’t supposed to make it back to Lynchburg.
Last year’s state championship team graduated their staff ace Will Reed as well as five of eight position players. Time and time again this season, the Vikings were down and counted out. Time and time again, they showed the heart of a champion in coming back.
Did Loudoun Valley head coach Wayne Todd ever feel like this one was out of reach?
“Never,” Todd said. “They’ve all done it – they’ve all been here. Both the coaches have been here. There is never any doubt, ever.”
In the last inning down yet again, what was Todd thinking?
“Ok, how are we going to get these runs? How’re we going to get them in?”
Valley dug themselves a hole early as Lafayette got the leadoff batter on in the first three innings and brought them around to score all three times as well as an additional run in the third to make it 4-0, Rams.
Just like in the VHSL 3A East region semifinal game against Conference 25 champion Colonial Heights, Todd turned to the softer throwing Lohr to throw the Rams off balance.
Lohr pitched three scoreless innings, and the Vikings clawed their way back into it.
“Coaches have helped me master three of my pitches,” Lohr said. “Most of the time I hit my spots and keep them off balance and get the ground balls and pop ups that I need.”
“Andrew Lohr is a guy that everyone looks past, and I don’t know why,” Todd said. “He’s the backbone of this team and everyone forgets about him because we have two guys going Division I and everyone talks about them. This is a kid that goes out there and gets the job done time and time again.”
In addition to providing much needed pitching relief to the Vikings, Lohr contributed during the game tying fifth inning to put the Vikes in it.
Arguably the Vikings’ most clutch hitter Hunter Gore stepped into the box with Loudoun Valley down 4-1 and two outs and did what he’s done all season: crushed a line drive over the center fielder’s head that scored both men and made it 4-3, Rams.
“He was throwing me a lot of change ups,” Gore said. “He left it there for me so I just took it. I was just trying to get those runs in because I was not accepting 4-1.”
Valley wasn’t done in the inning as Lohr came up and drilled an RBI single, bringing home courtesy runner Neil Leming from second and tying the game at 4-4 as the Vikings’ fans went crazy.
After a scoreless sixth, Lafayette had the dangerous top of their lineup due up in the seventh.
Six of the Rams’ nine hits came from the top three in their lineup and center fielder Luc Lipcius continued the streak, turning on a 2-1 fastball and putting it in the right field bullpen to give Lafayette the lead.
The first two for Valley went down in the seventh before Trey McDyre smacked a double down the right field line and Lafayette quickly issued Gore an intentional walk, not wanting to mess around with a guy who was 3-for-3 at the plate with two doubles and three RBI.
That brought up Lohr who wasn’t able to deliver his second game-tying hit in three innings and Valley came up just short of repeating as state champs.
The Vikings will look to follow the same template they did this year as they look to replace their ace and a handful of seniors to make another run to the state tournament. They’ll bring back stud juniors Gore, McDyre and Justin Ager and when asked if they would be back again next year, Gore responded with one word.
Curtis Atkinson is the Area Director for Western Loudoun Young Life and an avid Western Loudoun sports fan. Follow LoCoSports on Twitter (@LoCoSports) for up-to-date news and scores from around Loudoun County.