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Mustangs win sectional championship; defeat Valley 

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Lynchburg-Clay's baseball team and coaches celebrate their sectional championship Thursday at LCHS. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Stephen Forsha, The Highland County Press

DODSONVILLE — Scoring runs in two separate innings, plus having a top-notch pitching performance from Cole Wells, the Lynchburg-Clay won a sectional game for the first time in over five seasons as they defeated the Valley Indians, 3-1 for a Division III SE District Sectional championship Thursday. 

“This is a core group of juniors. They’ve played in three sectional finals and finally they got their first win, so I’m happy for them,” Lynchburg-Clay head coach James Flowers said. “They have definitely improved for sure. I'm happy that they're all getting ready to play in their first district game in their high school careers. 

“I couldn't be happier for this junior class. They've worked their tails off, and they deserve it.” 

The Mustangs (14-8) were first to score, as their first run was plated in the bottom of the third when Cody Bell doubled to left field to score Isaac Eyre for the 1-0 lead. Eyre reached the bases with a one-out single past the shortstop. 

In the bottom of the fifth, LCHS built a 3-0 lead, beginning their half of the inning with a double to left field by Austin Bell, followed by Eyre being hit by a pitch. Two outs were recorded by Valley with a strikeout and fly ball, only to see a two-out clutch hitting display by Josiah Burns, who singled to right field, scoring both Bell and Eyre for a two-run lead. 

The lone run scored by Valley (11-13) was in the top of the sixth as Gabe McNeil scored on a sacrifice fly by Tate Queen. 

LCHS totaled six hits in the win, as Austin Bell was 2-for-3 with one run. Also with hits were Burns (1-for-3, two RBI), Cole Wells (1-for-3), Eyre (1-for-2, two runs) and Cody Bell (1-for-2, one RBI). Trevor Niehaus, Eyre and Christian Flowers were all hit by a pitch. Niehaus, Burns, Eyre (two) and Austin Bell all had a stolen base. 

Wells was the winning pitcher, allowing one run (unearned) on three hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. Wells pitched 101 pitches, 59 for strikes. 

“Cole went out and did what Cole does, and does it well,” Flowers said. “He struggled to get a feel for his off-speed pitch early, and that's where some of the hit batters came into play. Lucky for him, his fastball was enough tonight.

“All year, our defense has been pretty solid. We expected that and had some guys positioned. Valley’s a really good team. We kind of knew what to expect, went down and were able to watch them play last week and were able to position some guys in right spots, and it worked out for us today.”

The win puts LCHS in a Div. III SE District Semifinal game on Thursday, May 23 at Ohio University against the Eastern Warriors. EHS (18-3) were the champions of the SHAC Div. I this season, and Lynchburg-Clay was second place. The two teams split their season series, with each winning a game against one another. 

The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. first pitch. 

“I’m just happy we're moving on,” Flowers said. “We’re going to go play at Athens at Ohio University, and I couldn't be happier to take this group with me. I feel like we have the tools we need to make a serious run, just hoping the baseball gods keep shining in our favor.”

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