LYNCHBURG, Va. — Pitching on the biggest stage of his high school career, Loudoun Valley senior Will Reed didn’t have his best stuff. He has dealt with arm soreness since May, but the ace had the ball in his right hand for his final start.
Reed made the most of the chance, pitching the Vikings to their first state final berth since 1972 with a 3-1 win over William Byrd in the Virginia 3A baseball semifinals at Liberty University.
Unable to grab command of his secondary pitches, Reed pounded the strike zone with a fastball that sat in the mid-80s for most of Friday afternoon and touched 87.
The Shepherd signee allowed seven hits and stranded seven runners in six-plus innings. Loudoun Valley will face Poquoson on Saturday at 10 a.m. in the state final, in a rematch of the 3A East region final that the Vikings won, 5-3.
In 1972, Loudoun Valley beat Tunstall, 8-1, for the Virginia AA state title. Reed helped send the Vikings (24-3) back to a championship game after a 42-year absence.
“I just kind of dealt with my arm being sore and pitched as well as I could,” Reed said. “I let them put the ball in play and let the defense do what it needed to do behind me.”
With each jam, Reed grew more comfortable. William Byrd (15-12), from Roanoke County, opened the game with back-to-back singles, but Reed retired the next three batters on two flyballs and a strikeout.
In the fourth, the Terriers put runners on the corners, and a nifty 5-1 double play on a foul ball — with the pitcher covering third — ended that threat to keep the 3A West region runners-up off the board.
“He gutted it out,” Loudoun Valley Coach Wayne Todd said. “He didn’t have his best curveball, but the last three games he’s become a real pitcher. He’s a tough kid, and he’s made himself into what he is.”
Reed’s teammates gave him some run support in the third. Senior second baseman Brandon Grayson smashed a double to the right field wall that pushed senior outfielder Michael Pugh to third, and junior outfielder Sam Urban followed with a double to right that plated both runners.
Pugh added an RBI in the fourth on a groundout that scored senior outfielder Anthony Woods.
In the top of the seventh, Reed gave up a single that rocketed off his glove. Junior Jack DeGroat was called upon to complete the save, but a walk and wild pitch placed runners on second and third with no outs.
With the tying run at the plate, DeGroat induced back-to-back swinging strikeouts with fastballs. But he then allowed a run-scoring single to center from William Byrd No. 3 hitter Dustin Boothe. DeGroat threw a curveball high and inside that locked up the cleanup hitter for a pop fly for the final out.
“The only thing I was worried about was not blowing the save but having that as Will’s last game,” DeGroat said. “I wanted to finish it off strong for all the seniors.”