LEBANON, Va. —
Ben Sexton launched a walk-off grand slam to end it early as Lebanon defeated Richlands 13-3 in Southwest District play.
Sexton was 2-for-4 with five RBIs in a very productive Thursday afternoon at Pioneer Park.
“I just got a good pitch to hit and I was able to hit it hard,” said Sexton. “It feels good, but I’m just glad to get another win to be honest. We started the season with a lot of young kids, but I think we’re all starting to settle in now.”
There isn’t a senior on the Lebanon (9-6) roster and they have now won three in a row and five of their last six games. They scored in four of the five innings played against Richlands (4-9).
Lebanon pitcher Mic Leonard retired the first eight batters he faced. The only blemish was a walk to Dylan Laforce through the first three innings.
Although they were down 6-0, the Blue Tornado made a game of it in the fourth inning.
Austin Carter bunted and reached on an error when Leonard had problems picking up the ball. After a strikeout, Ben Brown ripped a double to deep right-center to put runners at second and third. Zach Johnson hit a hard grounder and it glanced of Lebanon third baseman Clayton Gilbert’s glove and to Sexton the shortstop. He threw to first for the second out on a bang-bang play and the runners had to hold.
J.T. Anderson came through with a clutch two-out, two-run double. Trent Davis struck out but reached when the ball eluded the Lebanon catcher. Patrick Jackson hit a run scoring single up the middle to plate the third run. Laforce walked to load the bases.
Matthew Justus then hit a hard liner to right-center that would have scored at least two runs, but Lebanon centerfielder Will Stamper made a outstanding diving catch to end the inning.
“The Stamper kid laid out and made a great catch,” Richlands coach Adam Davis said. “It was an athletic play, that really stopped our momentum.
“The bunt by Carter really got us started that inning, he executed it perfectly. Ben and J.T. hit the ball in the gap hard. That’s the timely hits we want.”
The Tornado was hurt by three errors. Only eight of Lebanon’s 13 runs were earned. Richlands also left seven runners on base in the five-inning contest.
“We took a step forward in the top of the fourth inning but then we take two steps back when we give up two runs in the bottom of the inning,” commented Davis. “We just have to make the routine play and get the out.”
Stamper had two hits and three RBIs for the Pioneers. Leonard added a hit and two RBIs. Lebanon finished with 10 hits.
“I’m just happy for my guys,” Richland graduate and Lebanon head coach Jarrod Sparks said. “They’ve been working so hard, they deserve to win some games.”
Lebanon will play at Tazewell in another SWD contest tonight. The Blues continue a tough week with another road trip tonight to face Virginia High at Bristol.
at Pioneer Park
Richlands.......................000 30 — 3 4 3
Lebanon..........................240 25 — 13 10 1
Brown, Michaels (5) and Laforce. Leonard and Warren. W—Leonard (4-1). L—Brown (0-2). HR—Sexton (L), 5th, three on.