BEDFORD — Seven days after his 21-strikeout performance against Spotswood High, Fluvanna County’s Andrew Ward once again held bats hostage.
This time they belonged to Brookville.
Ward, a burly 6-foot-2 southpaw with a farm-boy build, scattered just three hits in a four-inning start and received plenty of run support to boot as Fluvanna rolled over the Bees 8-1 to claim Thursday’s Region 3C Championship at Liberty High School.
Armed with a devastating breaking ball, Ward, a VCU commit, struck out five, didn’t give up a walk and threw 43 of his 61 pitches for strikes.
Brookville (18-8) didn’t have much going. Doubles by shortstop Zach Thompson in the top of the fifth and by center fielder Brennan Abbott in the sixth were about all the Bees faithful had to cheer about, except for Kyle Hammock’s infield groundout that scored Mason Anderson for Brookville’s lone run in the fifth, which made the score 7-1.
Two nights after the Bees bats struck for 12 runs in a blowout of Fort Defiance in the region semifinals, they were eerily quiet.
“They were aggressive on both sides of the ball,” Brookville catcher Jared Glinski said of the Flying Flucos (20-3). “They kind of took control on the mound, were very aggressive at the plate. As soon as it would come across, they would hit it, and we just didn’t have the same approach tonight. That’s ultimately the difference in the game.”
Fluvanna cranked 12 hits. Leadoff hitter Ryan Groome was 3 for 4 with an RBI, and Cameron Shields went 3 for 4 and drove in two runs. Toby Sherman was 2 for 3 with a three-run double in the bottom of the third. At every turn, the Flucos hit the ball hard. Or they at least hit it to spots where the Bees defense had no chance: In the outfield gaps, liners up the middle, bloopers into no-man’s land.
“I just feel like we didn’t have as much energy as we’ve had,” Thompson said after the loss. “We’ve got to come back, can’t take no days off, and have a short memory.”
The loss sends the Bees to Lord Botetourt for Tuesday’s Class 3 state quarterfinal at 6 p.m. Fluvanna gets a home game by virtue of capturing the championship and hosts Abingdon High on Tuesday. Botetourt powered its way past Abingdon 13-7 on Thursday to claim the Region 3D title.
Ward turned in a masterful performance on May 23 against Spotswood, throwing a no-hitter and fanning 21 of 22 batters. He walked the only batter he didn’t strike out.
Against the Bees, the junior got the win and received help from sidearm lefty Kristian Negron — who threw two innings of relief, gave up two hits and allowed an unearned run — and Wyatt Dansey, who threw the final hitless frame.
Fluvanna captured the 3C title for the second straight season.
“It was a big night for us,” Ward said. “To have two regional titles under our belt is a huge accomplishment for us and for our school. In school history, too, we haven’t made it to regionals a lot.”
Despite the loss, Brookville’s faces weren’t too gloomy. There’s a state tournament to prepare for, after all, one the Bees feel like they can win.
“Those guys are beatable just like anybody else,” Glinski said. “So we’re ready to go.”
Brookville had just five hits. Freshman lefty Jed Howard, tagged for seven runs (all earned) in a start that lasted three innings, led Brookville at the plate by going 2 for 3. Other than the doubles by Thompson and Abbott, Kevin Breimann (1 for 3) had Brookville’s only other hit.
“The bigger prize is still out there,” BHS coach Chris Glaize said.
And Glaize, who will have his own burly southpaw available for the state quarters in Abbott, feels confident his offense will also be back in form Tuesday against Lord Botetourt.
“We’re gonna face their No. 1,” Glaize said. “Hopefully he’s not as great as [Ward] was, but we have to have a short memory.”