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Tournaments  | Story  | 6/5/2023

LWB Blank Vipers with dominant defense

Hannah Jo Groves     
Photo: Gage Chandley/Gavin Dicks (Perfect Game)
The LWB 2023 Highlanders used strong defense and impressive hitting to win over the Vipers Baseball Club 18U 4-0.

And despite shutting the Vipers out through five innings, LWB's left-handed pitcher Gage Chandley said he didn't feel like he was playing his best.

"I could not consistently throw my curveballs and strike today,” Chandley said. “I think I was coming around it. I'm a little tired. It's hot. [I need to] finish down - finish to the plate, not looking at my third base coach, because I pull around the ball and then my arm gets sore quicker and I don't push right."

Head coach Steven Wilmoth acknowledged that Chandley, who also plays high school ball for Wilmoth, was not at his best during this game. However, Wilmoth also acknowledged the heat and humidity out on the field - which registered around 90 degrees - played a major factor. 

"We don't like to overthrow him too much," Wilmoth said. "For him to throw that good when he's off really shows how good he is. So I just keep an eye on him. I don't like him to throw too much in the summer."

Chandley, who threw 86 pitches, registered six strikeouts with his low-80s and his mid-60s curveball before being relieved by Levi Cutts.

On the other side of the ball, the Highlanders' offense wasted no time getting in the score column, with center fielder Gavin Dicks hitting an RBI double out to left center in the opening frame.

"I was just trying to drive some other ways - outside pitch - so, just trying to stay through driving the gap," Dicks said. "After the first at-bat, they were throwing me changeups, so I just had to watch for those and jump on the fastball."

Right-handed pitcher Logan Corcoran pitched five innings for the Vipers, throwing 86 pitches and two strikeouts, including a low-80s fastball while mixing in a mid-60s curveball.

Cutts contributed an RBI before he went on to relieve Chandley - getting four strikeouts in just 21 pitches.

Along with Chandley and Cutts's strength on the mound, the LWB defense made multiple heads-up plays to keep the Vipers off the board. To end the top of the fifth, LWB shortstop Connor Goff tagged a Vipers runner between second and third before launching the ball to catcher Simon Scharff, who got the tag out at home just in time.

It was the reaction to this play from the LWB fans that definitively cut through the slow and relaxed tone of the game up to that point.

"We're a really solid team on defense," Wilmoth said. "As long as we throw strikes and limit the walks, then we pretty much keep people off the bases."

With the victory, the Highlanders punched their ticket into the 18U playoffs, which will roll into Monday evening.