Battlefield Baseball

Courtland catcher Owen Reilly consoles teammate Jakob Glunt after 2019’s Battlefield District final loss to Caroline.

As John Chapman took ball four and trotted to first base for the game-winning RBI in the Battlefield District tournament championship last May at Bowling Green Stadium, the Caroline standout saw Courtland relief pitcher Jakob Glunt drop to his knees and bury his face in his hands in agony.

Chapman reached first base and was mauled by his teammates at the bottom of a dog pile. He didn’t see that there was someone there to pick up Glunt.

Courtland catcher Owen Reilly wasted no time sprinting to the pitcher’s mound to give some encouragement to Glunt, who missed his entire junior season with a knee injury and fought through a shoulder ailment to become a key contributor in the 2019 season.

“I couldn’t just leave him out there by himself,” Reilly said recently. “I didn’t really even think about it. I saw him go down on his knees and I knew the best thing to do was go out there and help him out. I think as a person and as a catcher it’s my job to take care of the team first.”

Free Lance–Star photojournalist Mike Morones was scurrying out of the dugout to catch an image of Caroline’s dog pile in its 5–4, 10-inning victory. In his line of sight, there was Reilly consoling a distraught Glunt.

The two-fold photo of the Cavaliers’ celebration in the background and Reilly consoling Glunt earned Morones an Associated Press Sports Editors first-place award for feature photo in the C Division.

Morones has been invited to the APSE summer conference June 27 in Indianapolis to receive his first-place plaque.

“I just thought it was a nice juxtaposition of all the effort in that game,” Morones said of the picture. “It encapsulated all the effort Courtland put in and the excitement of the winners at the same time.”

Glunt kept the photo as his Twitter profile picture for several months. He said it reminds him of Reilly’s long-time friendship.

Reilly moved so quickly toward Glunt the image shows ball four still gripped in his hand.

“That’s just the kind of teammate he is,” Glunt said. “That moment hurt a lot. And just knowing I had a great friend there meant everything.”

The Cougars’ defeat wasn’t for a lack of effort in a tense affair.

They took a 4–3 lead in the top of the seventh on a two-run double from Ty Lowe, who battled illness all game and also threw 103 pitches on the mound. Caroline tied the game at 4 when Bryan Kovach scored on a fielding error in the bottom of the seventh.

Lowe and Chapman traded blows on the mound until both had exhausted or nearly reached the Virginia High School League’s 110-pitch limit.

Little-used reliever Joseph Garner helped Caroline escape in the top of the 10th. Glunt came on for Lowe in the bottom of the 10th.

The Cavaliers had loaded the bases with one out, but Glunt said he glanced at the large crowd, settled down and struck out the next batter.

Chapman, the Battlefield’s 2019 co-player of the year, stepped to the plate and said he had designs on “crushing” an offering from Glunt. But he was given the take sign by then-head coach Frank Dow.

“[Glunt] wasn’t throwing many balls,” Chapman said. “He was real consistent with strikes.”

Glunt and Chapman engaged in a 10-pitch at-bat that finally culminated on a 3–2 toss from Glunt that was a bit high and inside.

Chapman said he knew it was a ball because of the umpire’s strike zone when he was on the mound.

“If he had called that a strike, it would’ve been out of the blue,” Chapman said.

Chapman said while underneath the pile of teammates, his thoughts were that the Cavaliers’ hard work through fall ball and offseason conditioning paid off with the program's first district tournament championship since 2001.

Glunt was in despair until a familiar face reminded him they still had the Region 4B tournament to look forward to.

Morones caught it all in one memorable snapshot.

Glunt reached out to Morones on Twitter to show appreciation for the keepsake.

“I thought that said a lot about him as a person and a player to recognize the bigger meaning behind that picture,” Morones said. “It wasn’t ‘Hey look. This kid’s upset.’ It was more about teammates supporting each other. I think that’s what sports are all about, more so than wins or losses.”

Taft Coghill Jr: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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