LYNCHBURG, Va. — Less than 24 hours after earning the save in a state semifinal victory, Loudoun Valley junior Jack DeGroat was back on the mound to start the Virginia 3A state final against Poquoson.
Throwing on pure adrenaline, DeGroat struck out the first two batters he faced and never looked back. He dominated the Islanders from start to finish, allowing only four hits in a complete-game gem to guide the Vikings to a 9-1 victory at Liberty University and the school’s first baseball state championship since 1972.
“I’m sure if it was a regular season game I would have been fatigued today,” DeGroat said after baffling Islanders batters with a mid-80s fastball. “But it was the best my arm has ever felt, and I’m happy I was able to go out and get the job done today.”
Saturday’s final was a rematch of the 3A West region final, won by Loudoun Valley, 5-3. DeGroat made sure this game was never in doubt. The junior followed Will Reed’s virtuoso 10-strikeout, one-hit effort in the Vikings’ state semifinal win Friday .
DeGroat rarely tested Poquoson with breaking pitches, and seven of his 10 punch outs were on swinging strikes from fastballs.
“After the first inning I saw I was able to throw fastballs by them a bunch of times,” DeGroat said. “I decided to stick with that until they started hitting it.”
The offense gave DeGroat an early cushion on a two-out, run-scoring double to right by shortstop Trey McDyre (2 for 4, two RBI) in the bottom of the first. Loudoun Valley added two more runs in the third on a fielding error that scored center fielder Sam Urban and an Anthony Woods RBI single.
In the fourth, Loudoun Valley (25-3) surged with five consecutive run-scoring base hits. The Vikings ran off two Poquoson pitchers and batted around the order.
Urban continued his torrid hitting Saturday as the junior went 2 for 3 with an RBI and finished the weekend 4 for 6 with three RBI and two runs scored.
“I was ready to play in the state tournament, and I was really excited,” Urban said. “I was really praying I would do well, and I did.”
Valley Coach Wayne Todd told his players they would win the title in the preseason, something he said he has never done before. On Saturday they brought his statement to fruition, ending a 42-year title drought for the Purcellville school.
“It feels better than I ever thought it would have felt,” said Todd, a 1970 Loudoun Valley graduate. “I told my wife if I win this one, my career is complete. I won one in 1991 with Broad Run and now one with my home school.”