Lynchburg holds serve, gets G1 win

More news about: Johns Hopkins | Lynchburg

By Jim Dixon

Cedar Rapids, Iowa - Lynchburg took advantage of several Johns Hopkins miscues and took game one in the D3 Championship Series 5-2 to draw within one game of their first national championship on PG Cares Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Johns Hopkins will need to win twice on Thursday for their first baseball title.

"At this point there is no such thing as ugly," said Lynchburg head coach Lucas Jones. "That was an important win to get being the first game of a three-game series. I saw the stats before the game started. To hold them to two runs, I would take that in a heartbeat. Sometimes really good hitters get themselves out and we were fortunate today."

"We did not get the start we wanted," said Johns Hopkins head coach Bob Babb. "We gave then a couple runs in the the first and a couple more later on with miscues. Everything we hit was hard with a lot of at-em balls."

Eric Hiett doubled to left field to score the first two runs for Lynchburg in the opening inning. Lynchburg built a 5-0 lead and held on to win game one of the D3CS 5-2 on Wednesday afternoon.
Photo by Doug Sasse, | Photos for D3CS Game One

Hit batters in the first inning and a misplayed ball in the fifth led to a lead that the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays could not overcome. While the opportunistic Hornets were adding runs, Zack Potts was keeping the powerful JHU offense in check.

Potts pitched a complete game for his second win in the Series. He gave up seven hits and two runs, all unearned. He did not walk a batter and struckout two.

"Zack pitched to a little more contact than typically what he is use to," said Jones. "He controlled the game."

"Being early in the zone and knew they wolud be aggressive," said Potts. "They are good hitters and pounced on fastballs. If I can put a fastball where I want to, not where they want it, I will get guys out."

Johns Hopkins made it interesting, leaving the bases loaded with the final out, a pop up to the first baseman.

"I was trying to keep my cool and composure," said Potts. "It is not the end of the world if a hits gets through or a guy gets on or even an error. It is about making the next pitch."

Scoring the first runs in the game have proven to be important in many contests this week and first blood was drawn by the Hornets. A walk and two hit batters loaded the sacks for Eric Hiett. Hiett doubled to left to plate Brandon Garcia and Avery Neaves with one out. Pop ups to third and second kept the margin at 2-0.

"I was looking for a pitch to drive to get those guys in," said Hiett. "He left one up and got a barrel to it."

The starting pitchers settled in putting up zeros for three innings. Potts and Johns Hopkins' Kieren Collins settled in to put up zeros although the path was easier for Potts than Collins as Collins had runners on each inning.

In the fifth inning, an error by the shortstop opened the door for another Lynchburg run. Ben Jones opened the inning with a single and stole second. Two batters later Sean Pokorak popped up to shortstop who misplayed the ball. Johns Hopkins had an opportunity to get out of the inning but with two outs showing on the scoreboard, Kieren Collins allowed another single, this time to Gavin Collins, to left field and Jones scored.

"The two out hit to get us three was big," said Jones. "Found a barrel to get past the shortstop. He is clutch, a clutch kid. He has been going this all year."

Lynchburg scored insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Neaves doubled to the wall in left center and came home on a Gavin Collins single in the seventh. In the eighth, a walk to Jones was followed by two stolen bases. On the steal of third, the catcher skipped the ball and Jones was able to find home plate to extend the Hornet  lead to five runs.

Johns Hopkins added single runs in the eighth and ninth innings but it was not enough. Sam Browning singled in the eighth with one out, up the middle of the defence. An error by the third baseman allowed him to get to second. A single by Dillion Souvignier moved him where Shawn Stuerer could knock him in with a sac fly to the rightfielder.

The Hopkins ninth started with an error charged to Brian Long. Long had just entered the game for first baseman Eric Hiett.  Singles by Caleb Cyr and Dylan Whitney made the score 5-2. An error to the third baseman loaded the bases with one out with the top of the order coming up. Pop ups to the shortstop and first baseman ended the game in favor of the Hornets.

"They started to get into a grove at the back end of the game," said Jones. "Uncharacteristic how we played defense and how we gave them extra base runners."

Despite being in the World Series for the first time, the moment is not too big for the Lynchburg Hornets.

"We got a great bullpen, fresh and ready to go," said Jones. "Love to showcase them but we get three great starts and are not going to complain about that.

Whether it will be one game tomorrow or two, the Walnut and Bronze will be handed out to the winner of the 2023 D-III World Series.