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By Dean Barker
The New Market Shockers completed an undefeated postseason run with ninety total runs, and a 19-2 run in their last 21 games with an 8-4 win in game four at the Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks to win the 2021 RCBL Championship. The title was their first since 1972, and their first ever as the Shockers. The Shockers finish their championship season with a 24-6 record, while the Diamondbacks concluded at 19-13.
Ethan Laird went four innings, giving up four earned runs on four hits and striking out three for the no-decision. Cade Templeton got the win to finish the season 4-0, striking out six in five innings of relief.
Shockers head coach Nolan Potts, who has been with the Shockers organization since 2014, said he was very proud of his players for winning this title.
“I’m very fortunate to have these guys, because they make my life a lot easier,” Potts said. “They make it stressful on me, but the talent we have, and the comradery this team has is second to none, so to be able to cap it off is what it is all about, this is what we’ve been trying to do all year long.”
Parker Heinemann took his only loss of the season, gave up six runs (four earned) on seven runs in four innings to conclude at 4-1. Trevor Vernon was scoreless in an inning and two thirds. Chandis Goff gave up two earned runs.
Henry Delavergne drove the third pitch of the game just past a leaping Terrell Thompson at the center field wall to put the Shockers up 1-0. The Diamondbacks responded with singles from Zach Roberts and Thompson to start the bottom half. Both runners moved up on a passed ball to Jack Pausic. Pausic reached first on a grounder to third, but Roberts was thrown out trying to take home. Pausic stole second, and Cody Bartley walked to load the bases. Will Hass flew out to right, allowing Thompson to score the tying run. Bob Funk grounded out to short to end the inning.
Josh Tayman walked and stole second with two outs in the second inning, but Heinemann struck out Nick Goode to escape unharmed.
Frankie Ritter singled to left and stole both bases in the top of the third, and Pearce Bucher drove him in with a groundout to short to make it 2-1. Roberts singled to lead off the bottom half, followed by Thompson getting hit. Pausic crushed a homer to center field to give Stuarts Draft a 4-2 lead.
Luke Keister reached on an error by Pausic at third to lead off the fourth. Josh Tayman singled to right, and Matt House walked to load the bases. Goode grounded into a 6-3 double play, but Keister came home to cut the deficit to one. Delavergne beat out a grounder to short to tie the game.
Bucher led off the fifth with a double to right. Luke Estep singled to center, and moved to second on an unsuccessful throw to the plate, giving New Market a 5-4 lead. This led Diamondbacks head coach Les Sandridge to pull Heinemann for Trevor Vernon. Ty Bennett flew out to right to move Estep to third. Keister hit a soft fly ball past Hass at shortstop to plate Estep, and stole second. Tayman flew out to right for the second out. House walked to put runners on the corners for Goode, who struck out looking to end the threat.
Roberts began the bottom half with a single to left, and Thompson followed up with a walk. It was for naught, however, as Templeton struck out Pausic, Bartley and Hass to sneak out of the jam.
Delavergne and Bucher walked with one out in the sixth. Estep’s long ball to right was robbed by Funk at the wall, but it made way for Delavergne to take third. Bennett walked to load the bases, leading coach Sandridge to put Goff on the mound. Goff got Keister to fly out to center to end the inning. Noah Canterbury and Calen Owens were hit with two outs in the bottom half, but Roberts grounded out to Tayman at second to keep the Shocker lead at 6-4.
House and Goode singled to left in the seventh, and Delavergne singled to right to drive in New Market’s seventh run. Ritter flew out to third, but Bucher singled to left to push the lead to 8-4. Goff was pulled for Bartley. Bucher moved to second on a passed ball to Estep, who flew out to third to end the inning.
Bartley put the Shockers down 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth. Wilcher was hit with two outs in the bottom half, but Owens grounded out to Tayman to end the inning.
Canterbury took the mound for the ninth, hitting House to lead off. Goode struck out swinging for the first out, then Delavergne singled to left. Ritter grounded into a force out at third for the second out. Bucher walked to load the bases, but Estep struck out to end the inning.
Roberts lined out to a diving Estep in right for the first out. Thompson grounded out to Tayman for the second out. Pausic struck out to end the season.
The Shockers left fourteen runners on base, had no errors and gave up no unearned runs. The Diamondbacks stranded eight, and had two errors leading to two unearned runs.
Delavergne went 4-5 with three RBIs and a run scored. Bucher was 2-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Estep went 2-6 with an RBI and a run scored. Keister was 1-5 with an RBI and a run scored. New Market had 13 total hits.
Pausic went 1-5 with three RBIs and a run scored. Roberts went 3-5 with a run scored. Thompson was 1-2 with two runs scored. Hass was 0-3 with one RBI. The Diamondbacks had five hits.
Bucher was awarded series MVP, going 7-17 with five RBIs. He largely credited his teammates for being there to back him up.
“Just staying with in myself (was the key), because I know if I don’t get it done, there’s eight other guys in our lineup that night that’s gonna do it,” Bucher said. “So, just trusting everyone in the dugout, and… I feel like I’ve played a lot of baseball in my life, so I’ve got a good feel, just staying within myself.”
The trophy was especially sweet for a team full of fifteen Shenandoah University players and former players. After losing a 9-8 walkoff in the ODAC Championship game, Bucher said everyone was dead set on winning the RCBL title.
“We had a sour taste in our mouths after the way our season ended,” Bucher said. “At the beginning of the summer, we had one goal, and this was it, so it’s great to feel accomplished right now and move this into the school year next year.”
While there was no trophy presentation for the Diamondbacks, there were still positive takeaways. Roberts, who hadn’t played in a few years due to injuries, was grateful that he could complete an MVP season.
“Credit to all the coaches and the teammates, I had a blast, and can’t thank them enough for giving me the opportunity to come here and enjoy the game again,” Roberts said. “Really just enjoying the game again, and trying to have fun each and every day. And a lot of work, come back from some injuries and stuff, and putting time in the cage, and I can’t them enough.”
Coach Sandridge said he’s already looking forward to next season.
“I’m gonna take away all these guys and come back next year, and we’re gonna make another run,” Sandridge said. “A good team. We had a good group of guys, we’re just gonna come back and do it again.”
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