Wildcats top Monroe for first regional berth since 2006

After losing several key players to graduation from last year’s team, expectations weren’t particularly high for the Warren County Wildcats baseball team this season. But after Tuesday’s 3-1 win at William Monroe, maybe they should have been.

The Wildcats dramatic road win over the Dragons qualified them for their first regional tournament in 11 years and puts them into the Conference 28 championship game versus Riverside.

Warren, the No. 3 seed, began their tournament run with an 8-0 win at home last Thursday over No. 6 seed James Monroe.

With a regional berth on the line, the Wildcats then played one of their best games of the season at William Monroe.

Sophomore Ronnie Dodson’s two- run homer in the fifth, his first ever varsity home run, proved to be the difference in the taut and tense thriller.

“Very proud of all our guys, top to bottom,” Warren County coach Michael Minch said. “Our goal was to win a conference title and now we’ve put ourselves in a position to do that.”

Warren scored their first run of the game against the Dragons when senior Brendan McMackin singled in senior Cam Ford.

With the score tied at 1-1, Dodson hit his would-be game-winning blast to put the Wildcats up 3-1 head- ing into the bottom of the sixth.

“It felt great,” Dodson said. “I just went up there looking for a fastball and got one, and put a good swing on it and it went out. It felt really good.”

Ford, who picked up the win last week in the tournament opener, got the start again on the hill for the ’Cats and worked four innings, allowing just one run on two hits, while striking out five.

The Dragons put the first two batters on in the sixth and lefty Jacob Dodson was summoned to put out the fire. Dodson did just that by striking out the Dragons three and four hitters and leaving the two runners stranded.

“Cam’s effort on the mound was unbelievable, he kept us in the game, what more could you ask for,” Minch said. “Then Jacob comes in and strikes out their three and four hitters with men on. That’s what won the game for us. Unbelievable effort and guts from both guys.”

Ford, who was named the Bull Run District Player of the Year earlier this week, said the Wildcats run has been all about teamwork.

“These past two wins have been huge team wins,” Ford said. “We knew what we had to do, and if we played as a team and stuck together we would be hard to beat.”

In the win over James Monroe last week, the Wild- cats and Yellow Jackets had to deal with a 50-minute rain delay.

Warren struck first as Jacob Good scored the Wildcats' first run in the bottom of the first after being hit by a pitch and coming around on Ronnie Dodson's sacrifice fly.

Warren added two more runs in the second as Aaron Deavers and Jackson Arnold collected one-out hits.

Dylan Johnson pushed across the first run on a bunt single and one out later Ford delivered an RBI-single.

The Wildcats added another deuce in the third as Deavers delivered a two-run single.

In the fourth, the Wildcats kept the heat on the Yellow Jackets, scoring three more runs to put the game away.

The Wildcats took advantage of a pair of James Monroe errors in the fourth and Hunter Wines delivered the big hit with an RBI double.

Ford once again excelled on the mound, limiting the Yellow Jackets to just one hit in five innings. Ford struck out six and didn’t is- sue a walk.

The game was ruled official after five innings as continued lightning in the area forced the game to be delayed.

“It was tough with the lightning delay to get motivated,” Minch said. “I think we did a good job of competing. Offensively, it wasn’t our best but we found a way to win.”

Warren County will now travel to Loudoun County to take on No. 1 seed Riverside for the conference tournament title.

Win or lose, the Wildcats will be heading to their first regional berth since 2006.

“Moving on to regionals is huge for this program,” Minch said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the guys, coaches, everyone. The kids believed they could do it."

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