GREENVILLE — Riverheads clinched a spot in the state tournament with a 10-1 victory Thursday over Stonewall Jackson in the Region 1B baseball semifinals.
Junior pitcher Elijah Dunlap allowed just one run on three hits in six innings on the mound to earn the victory. He struck out 10 batters.
"Elijah was sick on Wednesday and didn't practice, but he pitched really well for us today," said Riverheads head coach Rodney Painter. "He threw strikes and the defense made the plays they had to make."
Junior third baseman Braeson Fulton was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and junior shortstop Grant Painter was 3-for-3 with three runs scored to lead the Gladiators offense.
"Once again I thought our hitters had a really good approach," the Riverheads skipper added. "We had some opportunities early to score some runs, but we left some runners out there. If we get in that position tomorrow, hopefully we'll do a better job of hitting with runners on base." Riverheads stranded 10 runners on base during Thursday's contest.
The victory was the fourth this season for Riverheads over Stonewall Jackson. The Gladiators outscored the Generals by a combined score of 46-2 in the four games.
The Gladiators scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning and never trailed.
Grant Painter led off the bottom of the first with a single, stole second and moved to third on a single by Michael Robertson. After Robertson swiped second, Fulton drove in both runners with a single for a 2-0 Riverheads lead.
Grant Painter scored again in the second inning. With two outs, he singled and stole second. Robertson walked before Fulton chased Grant Painter home with a single, making the score 3-0.
Riverheads broke the game open with three runs in the bottom of the fourth and three more in the fifth.
Grant Painter led off the fourth with a line single to right and then swiped his third base of the game. A single by Robertson put runners on the corners with no outs. After Fulton popped out, Dunlap singled up the middle, scoring Grant Painter to push the lead to 4-0. A wild pitch put two runners in scoring position and Robertson scored on Jakob King's groundout, making the score 5-0. Courtesy runner Landon Lightner then scored on a wild pitch, giving the host team a 6-0 lead.
Aidan Miller reached on an error to lead off the Riverheads' fifth and then moved to second on a balk. Ryan Farris was safe on an infield single, putting runners at first and third. Miller scooted home on Adam Painter's fielder's choice grounder, making the score 7-0. With runners at second and third, Farris scored on a passed ball pushing the margin to 8-0. When the throw from the catcher to the pitcher covering home was off target, Adam Painter continued home, making the score 9-0.
The Generals loaded the bases against Dunlap in the sixth inning and scored their only run. Dunlap had a no-hitter entering the inning, but lost the bid for a no-no with one out. Dunlap hit Matt Showman with a pitch to start the inning, but then retired Brayden Hovatter on a fly ball to center for the first out of the sixth. Pinch-hitter James Zirkle came off the bench and lined the first pitch he saw into left field for the Generals' first hit of the game. A single by Austin Ritchie loaded the sacks and Adrian Chaparro-Vann added a single to produce Stonewall's lone run of the game. With the bases still full, Dunlap retired the next two batters to minimize the damage.
Riverheads tallied its final run of the game in the bottom of the sixth on Lightner's run-scoring grounder to take a 10-1 lead.
Casey Butler took the mound for Riverheads in the seventh and retired the side in order to finish off the 10-1 victory.
Riverheads will play William Campbell on Friday at noon to determine the Region 1B champion.
Riverheads 10, Stonewall Jackson
Dellinger, A. Ritchie (4), McIlwee (6) and Chaparro-Vann; Dunlap, Butler (7) and Shuey.
WP - Dunlap. LP - Dellinger. HR - none.