Riverbend High School may have nearly twice the enrollment of Spotsylvania, but the Knights’ baseball team showed Tuesday night that experience trumps all.
The Group 3A Knights handed the youthful 6A Bears their ninth loss of the season with a 5–4 victory at the Riverbend Spring Break Tournament.
The Knights play with 10 juniors, including five that have remained on varsity since their freshman year. Four more have played varsity since they were sophomores.
Spotsylvania (5-5) has also stepped up its scheduling this year in anticipation of making a run in the 3A-East Region tournament.
“Playing tougher competition, everything that we’re going to see we have already seen before,” Spotsylvania head coach Travis Payne said. “We’ve played guys that throw hard, guys that slow it down. So we are definitely prepared for the long stretch of the season.”
After the Knights allowed two runs in the bottom of the third inning, junior center fielder Dante Fairchild singled. Spotsylvania starting pitcher Jon Rivard said that provided a spark for the Knights.
“For us, once things get going they just take off from there,” Rivard said.
Fairchild’s single in the fourth inning was also a key mechanism for Spotsylvania that helped it take the lead and the Knights kept swinging from there.
The team had a total of six hits on the night. In addition to Fairchild’s fourth-inning single, he also scored two runs for Spotsylvania. The Knights would score three runs in the fourth inning after being shut out for three frames.
Payne said that shows the team’s mettle.
“We are battle tested,” Payne said.
A true testament of that was displayed in the bottom of the fifth inning when Riverbend (2–9) loaded the bases with no outs.
It seemed to be the turning point for the Bears. Their momentum was building and the players could feel the energy from the fans.
But it was Rivard, who made, arguably, the play of the game.
He covered a rapid ground ball hit towards him and quickly tossed it home. Catcher Ethan Gallihugh then fired a strike from home to first for a double play. Rivard struck out freshman Joel Tarrh to end the Bears’ threat.
Rivard stated the pressure never got to him once the bases were loaded. He said it helps him “keep cool and focus on the game.”
Rivard pitched for six of the seven innings. He struck out seven batters and delivered two RBIs on offense. Daniel Brooks, Max Harper and Eugene Snyder scored one run each for Spotsylvania.
The Knights return to action today with a doubleheader against Stafford and Cosby.
As for the Bears, they are a young team with only four seniors. They have a host of freshmen and sophomores on the roster, so this season has served as a learning experience.
“We really just need to play better … we just haven’t been playing the best ball … throw strikes, make plays – pretty simple,” first-year head coach Angelo Sciandra said.
Riverbend added two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, but the game ended when DiGiacomo grounded out to shortstop with a runner on second and third.
“It’s just the game of baseball, you win some, and you lose some. They scored one more run than us,” Sciandra said.
Riverbend senior pitcher R.J, Vanvickle had three strikeouts and three hits at the plate. Maceo Christmas, Seth Sherman and Tony Skinner provided runs for Riverbend, which visits Colonial Forge on Tuesday.
JON RIVARD, Eugene Snyder (7) and Ethan Gallihugh. RJ VANVICKLE and Fenix DiGiacomo.