Madison 6, Lee 4
Matt Riffee didn't want to be the pitcher saddled with the loss that kept the fourth-ranked Madison baseball team from reaching its fifth consecutive Virginia AAA Liberty District championship game. So he did with his bat what he failed to do on the mound.
Riffee, a senior, jumped on a change-up and slammed a two-run double over the center fielder's head that tied yesterday's district semifinal game at 4 in the fifth inning. Ray Sparrow then doubled in the go-ahead run in an eventual 6-4 victory over Lee.
The game had been suspended because of lightning Friday night with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning and Lee ahead 4-2. When the teams resumed under sunny skies yesterday afternoon, Riffee was the batter with runners on first and third.
"I kind of wanted to redeem my pitching [Friday] night. I was a little upset with how I left it. I was putting too many people on base," said Riffee, who yielded all four Lee runs before senior Johnny Ayers relieved him in the fifth. "I just wanted to make sure we got the win, get myself off the hook."
After Sparrow's double gave the Warhawks a 5-4 lead, reliever Kenny Moreland struck out Ray Crothers and Spenser Sams to end the rally, but Madison tacked on an insurance run in the sixth with a walk, hit batsmen on consecutive pitches and an error on a ground ball to third.
Ayers, meantime, pitched scoreless sixth and seventh innings to pick up the victory and send Madison (19-3) into Monday's 7 p.m. district final against W.T. Woodson. The Warhawks are two-time defending district champions. Lee dropped to 11-10 and will next play in the Northern Region playoffs, beginning Friday.
In the seventh inning, Madison shortstop Brian Eck made a great defensive play to thwart a Lee comeback. After Ross Crigler doubled to the gap in center with two outs, Kevin Moreland -- Kenny's brother -- hit a ball deep in the hole between second and third. Eck ranged far to his right, made a strong throw, and Sparrow's superb stretch helped nip Moreland for the final out.