Rocky Mount, N.C. -- Five hours before getting on the mound to pitch, Jack Bachmore was locked in.
Locked into a game of hacky sack with his bullpen teammates that is.
Bachmore earned the win in the University of Lynchburg baseball team's 5-3 win over Lebanon Valley in the regional championship Sunday.
"I think it builds that teamwork and competitiveness," Bachmore said about his hacky sack performance before the game.
As for his first start of the season in the win-or-go-home contest with Lebanon Valley, Bachmore was a little more reserved.
"I sort of waited five minutes before the game started before throwing," Bachmore said. "I just treated it like coming out of the pen and wanted to put up some zeros."
The 2023 Old Dominion Athletic Conference pitcher of the year put up four zeros in his six innings of work, but the Flying Dutchmen tagged Bachmore for two runs in the 4th and another in the 6th.
After allowing the first two runs of the game in the 4th, Bachmore was greeted with supportive fist bumps from his teammates as he entered the dugout, but his mind was clearly focused on the two pitches the Dutchmen hit for extra bases.
Once he got back to the bench, Bachmore continued his rhythmic pacing from one end of the dugout to the other he had been doing all game. The only time he broke concentration from his gait was to quickly look over his shoulder out to the field to see how the Lynchburg batters were fairing.
After dropping the first game of the day 8-4, Lynchburg initially took a 2-0 lead in the 2nd frame of Game 2. Brandon Garcia scored Jackson Harding with a sacrifice fly, and Avery Neaves forced a run in with a bases-loaded walk.
Bachmore claimed nothing goes through his head as he stalks back and forth in the dugout. "It just keeps me locked in," Bachmore said. "I feel like if I sit down, I'll get tired."
However, Bachmore must have felt some relief as he watched Neaves break the 2-2 tie in the 6th inning with a blistering double off the base of the left field wall.
With a career-high nine strikeouts, the double put Bachmore in line for his eighth win of the season.
Baylor Cumbea was tasked with protecting the lead in the 7th. Cumbea struck out two batters and held the Dutchmen scoreless over 2.1 innings.
After Eric Hiett ripped his eighth hit of the weekend, Gavin Collins blooped a ball over the second baseman's head, but Hiett was thrown out at second.
Collins salvaged the inning as the Hornets looked for insurance. With a hit and run play on, the junior broke towards second on the pitch. However, the ball was out of Harding's reach at the plate and skirted away from Lebanon Valley's catcher. Without breaking stride, Collins turned around second and took third to get 90 feet from home.
"I was already in go-mode," Collins said. "I was like, 'I'm taking third.'"
Harding drove Collins in with a groundout to put Lynchburg up 5-3. "That wasn't my top speed," Collins said. "I had some heavy legs after the weekend. You would have seen my fastest earlier." Either way, Collins' hustle and awareness gave Lynchburg a little more comfortability headed into the later innings.
Cumbea pitched into the 9th inning but had to exit the game after pulling up with an injury while fielding a comebacker to the mound.
Even though the Flying Dutchmen may have been relieved to see Cumbea leave the game after he held them hitless over seven at-bats, their assignments at the plate did not get any easier.
Lynchburg's ace Zack Potts came in from the bullpen 48 hours after delivering eight innings of one-run ball in Friday's win over the Dutchmen.
Potts, throwing as hard if not harder than he does during a start, retired the final two batters with harmless flyouts, earned the save, and was mobbed on the field by his teammates in celebration.
The Hornets (41-7) grabbed the regional championship with two wins over Lebanon Valley and a victory over N.C. Wesleyan Saturday. The Hornets had a chance to claim their super regional bid earlier in the day. Wesley Arrington pitched 6.1 innings with four Ks as the starter in the first game of the day, Hiett continued his torrid performance at the plate with another hit, and Matt Cassidy shed the catcher's gear in the bullpen for the ball on the bump with four strikeouts over 2.1 innings of relief work, but the Dutchmen stayed alive with an 8-4 win.
However, after the 5-3 win in the second game of the day, Lynchburg earned a super regional date with Shenandoah beginning Friday, May 26. Lynchburg will play Shenandoah in a three-game set at Bank of the James Stadium in Lynchburg, Va. Game 1 is Friday at noon, Game 2 is Saturday at 11 a.m., and Game 3 will follow 45 minutes after the conclusion of Game 2 Saturday if necessary.
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