Matoaca edges Dale in first of two tiebreakers
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
May 17, 2013, 16:04
CHESTERFIELD – It’s not uncommon to see the Matoaca High School battery of pitcher Rick Spiers and catcher Grant Boyd prevail in a Central District baseball game. But to watch Boyd dominate a contest from the mound as Spiers crouched behind home plate?
Such a sight was never witnessed before Thursday, and it was one to behold.
With most of his pitchers – Spiers among them – ineligible after throwing on Tuesday or Wednesday, Matoaca coach Fred Stoots opted to reverse the juniors’ roles for a regular-season playoff game against Thomas Dale.
Buoyed by the backwards battery, the hosting Warriors edged the Knights 2-1 to stay in contention for the top seed in the upcoming district and Central Region tournaments. Boyd retired the first nine batters he faced and racked up seven strikeouts en route to a complete-game one-hitter.
Matoaca High School junior Grant Boyd pitched a complete-game one-hitter to vanquish Thomas Dale in the first of two games in a three-team playoff for the top seed in the Central District baseball tournament (photo by David Breidenbach).
The right-hander faced just three batters more than the minimum, overshadowing a three-hit, seven-strikeout showing from his pitching counterpart, Thomas Dale sophomore Cody Boydstun.
“It was an awesome performance,” Stoots said of Boyd’s outing. “He told me he was going to step up and he did. You couldn’t ask any more from him. It was unbelievable. That was one of the best performances I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”
The two teams were meeting for the second time in as many days. On Wednesday, Thomas Dale edged Matoaca 6-5 in the finale of a topsy-turvy regular season, forcing a three-way tie between the two Chesterfield schools and Prince George at the top of the district standings.
Boasting matching district records of 11-3, those three teams were named tri-champions, and Thursday’s clash marked the beginning of a two-game playoff to determine the district’s No. 1 seed.
Prince George, which escaped the opening game by virtue of a coin flip, and Matoaca will meet on Monday at Meadowbrook High School with that distinction up for grabs. The district tournament will proceed as scheduled on Tuesday at Matoaca.
Phillip Van Keuren manufactured a run in the bottom of the opening frame to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead. After legging out an infield single, the lead-off hitter advanced to second on a passed ball, reached third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Brandon Traylor’s stand-up double.
Matoaca sophomore Jacob Bartlett scored in similar fashion in the second. The sophomore reached with a walk, stole second base and moved to third on an errant throw. Moments later, Jake Bailey – the only player to register multiple hits in the game – mustered an RBI single to plate what proved to be the game-winning run.
“Baseball is all about momentum,” Stoots said. “So to score early was nice because it gives us a little confidence. I think that showed as we went along.”
Meanwhile, Boyd sat the Knights down in order in each of the first three innings. The jack of trades came into the game winless in two previous starts but said he tried not to overanalyze the task at hand.
“I just kind of throw it,” Boyd said. “It worked today.”
The Knights halved the deficit with an unearned run in the fourth. Leading off the inning, Nathan Eaton popped up in the infield but reached base when a miscommunication allowed the ball to drop to the well-manicured grass.
Eaton alertly took second as the Warriors loitered near the pitcher’s mound to discuss the error, moved to third on an errant pickoff attempt and scored on Collin Fleischer’s sacrifice fly.
Thomas Dale outfielder Maurice Gothe broke up the no-hitter with a two-out single moments later, but Boyd induced a fielder’s choice in the next at-bat to escape his only turbulent inning.
“My defense played great,” Boyd said. “That’s all I could ask for.”
With the win, the Warriors improved to 12-6 on the season while the Knights fell to 12-5-1. Thomas Dale will compete in the district tournament as the No. 3 seed and take on the loser of Monday’s game in the first round.
The winner will meet No. 4 Dinwiddie in the other semi-final pairing. Both of those games are slated for Tuesday, and the most parity-filled district season in recent memory will conclude with the championship game on Thursday.
“Dinwiddie is dangerous as a No. 4 seed,” Stoots said. “Obviously Prince George, us and Thomas Dale are good. It’s a shame Colonial Heights isn’t in the tournament because that’s a good ball club, but it’s pretty even.
“It’ll be exciting to see what happens next week.”
TDHS: 000 100 0 – 1 1 2
MHS: 110 000 X – 2 3 2
Boydstun and Petree; Boyd and Spiers. W: Boyd. L: Boydstun. Highlights: Bailey (M) 2-2, RBI; Gothe (TD) 1-3. Records: Thomas Dale 12-5-1 (11-4 Central); Matoaca 12-6 (12-3).
Several members of the Matoaca High School baseball team congratulate pitcher Grant Boyd on his one-hitter against Thomas Dale on Thursday in Chesterfield. The Warriors won the regular-season playoff game by a 2-1 margin (photo by David Breidenbach).