YORK – In splitting two tightly contested regular season meetings and posting the same Bay Rivers District baseball records, Warhill and New Kent were every bit as even as their status of co-champions would suggest.
That made Warhill's decisive 6-2 win over New Kent in the district tournament championship game on Saturday all the more unexpected. The Lions (17-4) were in command throughout thanks to a demonstration of solid fundamental baseball.
Their reward is the district's No. 1 seed into the Region I tournament. The Lions will host Caroline on Monday at 3 p.m. in the quarterfinals. New Kent (17-5) will host Culpeper in the quarterfinals at 1 p.m. on Monday, the same time Lafayette (13-7) will play its quarter at Southampton.
"The rubber match is big, especially when you have the co-champs and two teams that are hosting regional play come together for this meeting," Warhill coach Joe Henzel said as his team won its first tournament title after losing the finals in 2010-11. "It gives this a whole lot more meaning."
Blake Wills (6-1) continued to shine on the mound in holding the Trojans hitless in a three-inning stint. He walked a batter in the second, but Lions' catcher Lucas Rice gunned him out trying to steal second.
"That was big that the first time they tried to move we punched them out," Henzel said. "Maybe they felt after that they couldn't play it as aggressively as they wanted to play it."
The Lions broke the game open in the bottom of the second with four consecutive hits, all to the right side, off of New Kent starter Chris Beshai. Michael Brumfield, perfect at third base in the seven chances he got on ground balls, started the rally with a two out double.
Tyler Klinedinst singled to right to score Brumfield, then scored on Clay Frost's single to right. Luke Patterson followed with his single to right, moving Frost to third. Frost sprinted home to make it 3-0 when Patterson forced a rundown by breaking toward second.
Henzel pulled Wills after three innings so he'll be eligible to go the distance should the Lions reach the regional semifinals on Wednesday. No matter, senior Blake Otey, who's pitched sparingly since early in the season because of a bad back, put in a solid four-innings in which he allowed two runs on four hits.
"It was exciting because I hadn't had that much (mound) time, because coach wanted me to get healthier," Otey said. "I was happy to get this chance and get it done."
Otey held the Trojans hitless his first two innings, before Kevin Karaffa singled, stole second and scored on Michael Carpenter's single to make it 3-1 in the top of the sixth. The Lions retaliated with three runs in the bottom of the sixth, two coming on a double from another senior quickly making up for a somewhat disappointing season: No. 9 hitter Clay Frost.
"Being at the bottom of the order, I'm mainly going to see fastballs, so I was just trying to protect the ball and score some runs," said Frost, who was 2-for-3 with two RBI. "I didn't have the best senior year I wanted to have, but staying with it, practicing hard and taking extra swings in the cage paid off today.
"It's a big deal to beat New Kent, because we split with them. It's good to know we're district champs."
NO. 1 WARHILL 6, NO. 2 NEW KENT 2
New Kent, 000, 001, 1: 1 4 2
Warhilll030 003, x: 6 9 1
WP: Wills (6-1), LP: Beshai. Standouts: Warhill, Patterson 2-4, Frost 2-3 (double, 2 RBI). Records: Warhill 17-4, New Kent 17-5.