YORK — It wasn't an upset along the lines of Jets-Colts in Super Bowl III or the Miracle on Ice. New Kent did, after all, split a pair of one-run decisions with Lafayette during the baseball regular season.
But after winning 16 of 19 games and living up to its billing as Bay Rivers District favorite, Lafayette entered the Colonial Rivers Conference 25 tournament as the top seed and favored again. That mattered little to New Kent, which surprised the Rams 3-1 Wednesday at York High in the same way they've surprised in winning 15 games this season.
The Trojans (15-7) graduated six all-district players representing most of the offense from their 2013 district co-champs. So they've relied on good pitching, excellent defense and the timely hit to rebuild nicely.
Chris Beshai provided the pitching against Lafayette, throwing a three-hitter by relying on a nasty cutter. The Trojans played errorless defense behind him and hit Lafayette ace Daniel Blankinship (6-1) hard in scoring three runs in the fifth.
The combination ended the Rams' season, sending the Trojans into next week's 3A East Region tournament. No. 6 Poquoson or No. 2 Park View will join them in the regional and in the Conference 25 championship game at 7 p.m. Thursday at York.
Park View led Poquoson 2-0 when lightning and rain stopped play. They will resume their semifinal at 5 p.m. Thursday at York, with the winner moving into the championship game.
"This is huge because we were No. 5 and they were No. 1, but we did our best," Beshai said of the New Kent win. "I went with the cutter because it was working.
"I knew my teammates had my back through it all."
New Kent coach Ronnie Cox said, "We'll take this win because Lafayette is a good ballclub and their ace, Blankinship, doesn't beat himself."
All it took was one bad inning for Blankinship and the Rams to lose it because they could not hit Beshai, who allowed just three infield singles.
Clay Simpson led off the fifth and advanced on a sacrifice bunt, but was thrown out at the plate by Rams center fielder Luc Lipcius while trying to score from second on Stephen Carpenter's single.
Moments before a 40-minute delay for lightning, Michael Carpenter doubled to give New Kent a 1-0 lead. Following the delay, the Rams intentionally walked New Kent's best hitter, Tyler Lambert. Kevin Karaffa made the Rams pay by doubling to right-center to make it 3-0.
Beshai surrendered only one walk, to Mark Rivera in the sixth, and after Rivera stole second, Andre Lipcius singled to drive him in. Beshai retired the Rams' final four batters to pitch the Trojans into their second consecutive regional.
"I didn't see this one coming, but I felt we had a pretty good nucleus to build around," Cox said of the regional berth.
NEW KENT 3, LAFAYETTE 1
New Kent: 000, 030, 0 – 3 9 0
Lafayette: 000, 001, 0 – 1 3 1
WP: Beshai (3-1), LP: Blankinship (6-1). Standouts: New Kent, S. Carpenter 2-4, M. Carpenter 1-3 (double, 1 RBI), Karaffa 2-3 (double, 2 RBI). Records: New Kent 15-7, Lafayette 16-4.
No. 1 seed Park View advanced to the championship game with a 2-0 win over No. 5 New Kent.
The Dragons will be joined in the championship game, and in next week's 3A East Region tournament, by No. 2 York or No. 3 Colonial Heights.
York led Colonial Heights 3-1 after four innings when lightning and rain interrupted the game. They will resume at 5 p.m. Thursday at York, with the winner playing Park View in the championship game at 7 p.m.
Park View scored a run in the third on Leanne Wilson's single and added another run in the fifth. That's all Odicci Alexander needed as she held New Kent to four hits.
York took the lead in the bottom of the second on Destiny Martinez's RBI single. The Falcons put two more on the board in the third, when Lia Batchelor doubled, Maddie Rogerson singled and Devon Smith drove them both in with a single.
PARK VIEW 2, NEW KENT 0
New Kent: 000, 000, 0 – 0 4 3
Park View: 001, 010 x – 2 3 0
WP: Alexander, LP: Bush.
O'Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963.