By Robert Anderson 981-3123
The Cave Spring baseball team had a big inning on Monday, and it started with a small dose of “little ball.”
Boosted by a first walk and a sacrificial bunt, the Knights scored eight runs in the second inning en route to a 9-3 home win over Lord Botetourt in the Region 3D quarterfinals.
Cave Spring (13-5) threw five hits in the eight-run uprising, but Peyton Horsley started with a base on walks and Owen Sweeney followed with a sacrifice to get the ball rolling.
“We haven’t been able to do that very well this year,” Cave Spring coach Ricky Lonker said. “We’ve been focusing on that lately.
“It cost us a few games early on, in games 3-2 we miss a sacrificial bunt or a crunch so we worked on that daily. If you can run a bunt, you can win a bunch of games.
Lord Botetourt (15-7) traveled to Roanoke County on the heels of Saturday’s win over Franklin County in the Blue Ridge District tournament final.
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The Cavaliers quickly found themselves behind the 8 ball.
Cave Spring sent 12 men to the plate in the second as Jack Urgo had an RBI double, while Bryce Cooper and Aiden Dellinger delivered RBI singles and Skylor Carroll added a two-run single against Botetourt starter Nate Prince.
When Owen Sweeney greeted reliever Connor Fuhrman with a brace, the damage was complete.
Prince walked three batters in the inning and the Cavaliers had a tough time in the infield and outfield.
“It was a bit unusual,” Botetourt coach Todd Smith said. “Nate is our guy. He’s been getting rid of that kind of stuff all year.
“I know everyone in the stands is telling me I gotta shoot him, gotta shoot him, gotta shoot him, but he’s been our guy all year. He’s gotten rid of traffic jams all year Tonight, Cave Spring put the ball on the bat a little better than us.
Credit Cave Spring starter Trey Ludy, who allowed just five hits in 6 ⅓ innings.
“He’s calm, doesn’t say much, just does his job,” Lonker said.
The right-hander allowed three singles on the ground in the fifth inning, but he managed to keep the Cavaliers off the board thanks to the first of two 6-4-3 double plays started by Carroll and ended by laser throws from Cooper, a 6 -foot-4 second baseman.
“We put him there because his arm was a little sore,” Lonker said. “He’s not supposed to throw big and he threw big.”
Cooper went 2-for-4 at home plate, while Sweeney had a pair of hits in addition to his sacrificial bunt. Seven of the Knights’ nine batters hit safely.
Botetourt got his three points in the seventh. Fuhrman had an RBI single while Prince scored a single and grounded by his brother, catcher Owen Prince.
Next up is a Wednesday semi-final in 2021 Class 3 runners-up Abingdon, who overcame a three-point deficit to edge Carroll County 5-4 on Monday.
“It’s been a while since anyone from here has gone out there and won,” Lonker said. “I think we were last when we went out there and hit them a few years ago, so that’s the plan.”
Lord Botetourt was hoping to stay longer in the playoff bracket, but there are no easy exits in the 3D region.
“This region is quite strong,” Smith said. “I’m happy with the guys this year though.”