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VISAA state baseball: Walsingham wins fifth consecutive title, Cape Henry wins second straight title, Greenbrier Christian is runner-up

Earlier this month, Walsingham Academy played a brutal schedule that included games against Benedictine, Cox and Cape Henry. All three teams are ranked among the overall top 10 in the state.

The Trojans lost all three games.

But those losses prepared them for this week as Walsingham Academy won its fifth consecutive Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III state title Saturday. The Trojans posted a 12-2 victory over Brunswick Academy at Shepherd Stadium in Colonial Heights.

“That’s exactly why,” Trojans coach Ian Heisel said about why his team played a tough non-conference schedule. “That helped us and set us up. That’s why we played three or four games in a week, to get ready to win three games in a week tournament.”

The Trojans (22-10) took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. They followed that with five runs in the third inning and added six more in the fourth.

They were sparked by Daniel Guntherberg’s two-run double and Ayden Evans’ three-run double.

The Trojans also got a dominating pitching performance from junior Davis Neighbor.

“Davis Neighbor was phenomenal on the mound today,” Heisel said. “He battled, attacked the zone and did well.”

Heisel said this title was special because the Trojans had to overcome numerous injuries this season.

“We were definitely battle-tested. We fought every single game, and got better and better throughout the year,” he said. “Then that last few games, everything was clicking. This means a lot. It took us seven years to get one (state title), and now we’ve won five in the last five years.”

VISAA DIVISION I FINAL

Cape Henry 6, Benedictine 2

Expectations were high this season for Cape Henry. The Dolphins were the defending state champions and returned pretty much their entire team.

But they were facing Benedictine of Richmond, which came into the game 8-0 against teams from Hampton Roads, including victories over Cox and Greenbrier Christian — and which beat Cape Henry last month.

The Dolphins responded in a big way as they got strong pitching and clutch hitting to beat the Cadets and win their second consecutive state title.

Dolphins first-year coach Chris Dotolo, who replaced Tim Hummel, said losing to Benedictine last month actually helped.

“We had opportunities to score and just didn’t,” he said about that game. “Tonight, we took advantage of those opportunities. It turned out tonight that we were able to capitalize on some of their mistakes, and we had some big hits along the way. We knew what they had. We knew what they liked to do.”

Cape Henry (27-4) scored two runs in the second, fourth and seventh innings.

Leading the way was junior Parker Wight, who had three hits, including a homer, and four RBIs. Dotolo moved Wight to the leadoff spot for the title game.

“He usually bats third or fourth, but tonight I just had a feeling and stuck him in the leadoff spot,” Dotolo said. “He swung the bat real well and was a big part of our lineup and came up big three times. He did a really good job.”

Cape Henry got great pitching from Payton Friske, Colin Lebel and Jack Wickum.

“Payton gave us three really good innings,” Dotolo said. “Colin, who had been hurt all year, came in and pitched two good innings. And Jack Wickum closed it out. For the pitching staff, that was kind of thin going into the championship game, they pitched great.

“This team is 53-7 over the last two seasons,” Dotolo added. “That’s pretty good baseball.”

VISAA Division II final

Steward 11, Greenbrier Christian 9

Greenbrier Christian battled all afternoon, but in the end came up short as Steward held on to beat the Gators to win its first state title since 2014.

Steward’s Nate Kumper helped give the Spartans a 4-0 lead with a three-run homer in the first inning.

The Spartans added two more runs in the second to lead 6-0.

“They could have said it wasn’t in the cards today, but this group didn’t do that,” said Gators coach Patrick Nichols. “They believed and never stopped believing.”

The Gators (22-9) scored four runs in the second, but Steward responded with three in the third to push its lead to 9-4.

Greenbrier Christian added four more in the fifth to cut the deficit to 9-8.

Steward scored two in the sixth, but Greenbrier Christian scored one in the sixth heading and had momentum going into the seventh inning.

“We had the tying run on second base when the game ended and the winning run at the plate,” Nichols said. “I really believed we were going to win, and they believed we were going to win. The fact that we clawed back, it was quite impressive. Unfortunately somebody has to lose. And today, unfortunately, it was us.”