LEBANON, Va. – It may have been the season-opener for Lebanon and the second game of 2022 for Abingdon, but both baseball teams appeared in midseason form on Monday.
In the end, Abingdon picked up an impressive 5-0 road win over the Pioneers.
“ It was a well-played game by both teams,” Abingdon coach Mark Francisco said. “It was a nice battle. Obviously, Coach [Doc] Adams does a tremendous job with his program, he has a talented group that I expect to have another great season.”
The defending Class 2 state champions couldn’t do much against the Falcons’ pitching.
Freshman Jett Humphreys got the nod on the mound for Abingdon and allowed a leadoff double by Seth Buchanan to left-center in the bottom of the first inning.
Humphreys would not allow another hit, striking out four in three innings of work.
Ethan Gibson went to the bump in the fourth inning for the Falcons. He was greeted with a double off the bat of Dagan Barton, the second hit of the game for Lebanon.
“ I just wanted to dig in and keep going,” said Gibson. “I have an amazing defense behind me and a great catcher behind the plate, I trust in them and throw strikes.”
That formula worked for Gibson. After the double, he retired the next six batters he faced. The only other hit was a soft single to right by Lebanon’s Nick Belcher in the seventh inning. Gibson finished with 10 strikeouts and didn’t walk a batter.
He is 2-0 in Abingdon’s first two games.
“ Jett [Humphreys] being a freshman, he hasn’t competed like a freshman so far,” Francisco said. “When Gibson is on the mound, he’s a tough guy to face, especially early in the season.”
Buchanan was the starting pitcher for Lebanon and he kept the Falcons off the scoreboard until a two-out rally in the fourth.
Another freshman, Daniel Fellhauer served a soft single to left and stole second base. Elijah Parks followed with a single up the middle. Fellhauer fell between third and home and was injured but got up and was able to make it across the plate with the first run.
“ Fellhauer got us going and then had the injury,” Francisco said. “It was hard to focus after that. He’s such a good young man, he gives you everything he’s got. Prayerfully that’s something that will heal quickly.”
The young Pioneers, without a senior on their roster, kept within striking distance. It was a 1-0 game going to the seventh inning.
“ Good pitching – we weren’t ready for that,” said Lebanon boss Doc Adams. “I thought my kids played six good innings. We had a bad seventh, overall I thought we played a pretty good ballgame against a super baseball team.”
Two walks and a hit batter, along with hits from Parks and a two-run single by Beckett Dotson led to four Abingdon runs in the seventh to end the suspense.
It was Lebanon’s first loss since June 14, 2019.
Abingdon finished as the VHSL’s Class 3 state runner-up last season.
“ We’re just trying to get better,” Francisco said. “We played five freshmen today and we have six on varsity. We just want to develop and grow; we lost so many guys from last year. It’s a good group of kids and they’re working hard.”
Lebanon hosts Russell County rival Castlewood today. Abingdon (2-0) plays again on Friday, traveling to Gate City for a Mountain 7 District contest.
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