NORTON, Va. – Rural Retreat left-hander Tucker Fontaine had J.I. Burton hitters off balance all afternoon Friday.
The junior fanned 11 over 5 1/3 innings of work to lead the Indians past the Raiders 4-1 in the quarterfinal round of the VHSL Region 1D baseball tournament at Lawson Fitchko Stadium.
Rural Retreat (19-6) struck first in the top of the first inning when Caleb Roberts singled, moved to second on a wild pitch and later scored on an error.
Burton (11-8) was able to dodge further trouble when Raiders’ starter Noa Godsey was able to induce an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play.
From there, it was the Fontaine show. The hurler fanned the side in each of the first two innings while striking out two more in the third to send his team to the fourth inning still on top 1-0.
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“Fontaine gave us a great start, he had all of his pitches working,” said Rural Retreat coach Van Harris. “He commanded the zone, did a great job for us.”
Godsey was nearly equally impressive on the mound for the Raiders.
After the Indians early run, Godsey would toss three consecutive scoreless innings to get his team to the bat rack down a run in the home fourth.
Burton got a one-out single from Bryson Keys in the fourth, but Fontaine quickly squashed the threat with a strikeout and a pop-out.
Roberts would again start the Rural Retreat offense in the fifth.
The shortstop lined a one-out single to start the inning before moving up 90 feet on Noah Bandrimer’s walk.
Roberts would be erased on a fine defensive play at third base by Burton shortstop Miguel Madrigal for the inning’s second out before things unraveled for the host Raiders.
Justin Gilman lined a ball to the outfield to score Bandrimer, the throw from the outfield would be cut off only to see a second throw be made; this time an errant throw to the outfield allowing a second run to cross the plate.
The Raiders would again hold things together getting out of the jam from reliever Clay Hart to enter the home fifth down 3-0.
Madrigal would line his second hit of the game in the fifth and eventually score on Godsey’s run-scoring hit.
It would be all Burton could get as Fontaine fanned Brayden Dutton for his 11th punchout of the afternoon.
Trevor Shelton led off the visiting sixth with a double for Rural Retreat before scoring on an RBI single from Roberts to push the lead back to 4-1.
Fontaine faced trouble in the sixth, leaving with two men on with one out in giving way to Roberts.
Roberts got a pop-out and a strikeout to end the sixth before working around a two-out walk in the seventh to record the save.
Roberts finished the day 4-for-4 at the plate with a double, three singles and a run scored while Gillman cracked two doubles for the winners.
Madrigal had two of Burton’s four hits as the Raiders saw their season end days after winning the Cumberland District tournament championship. Rural Retreat eliminated Burton from the regional tourney for the second straight year.
“It’s hard to win with 12 strikeouts,” Burton coach Jacob Caudill matter-of-factly stated. “We couldn’t get around on him [Fontaine].”
Rural Retreat advances to the Region 1D semifinals Monday at Emory & Henry College.