HENSPTS-05-13-21 KVA1

Kerr-Vance Academy baseball player R.J. Johnson (center) slides safely into home plate during his team’s 11-1 victory over Lee Christian on Tuesday, giving his team an opportunity to claim their fourth straight NCISAA 1A championship this weekend.

HENDERSON -- The Kerr-Vance Academy baseball team kept a long-standing tradition going on Tuesday afternoon by advancing to the NCISAA 1A Championship Series with an 11- victory over Lee Christian.

Head coach Mike Rigsbee was honored to carry over the momentum from Todd Wilkerson’s tenure into another year and is confident that a fourth straight state championship is more than feasible following KVA’s performance on Tuesday.

“This feels really good,” Rigsbee said. “These boys really competed and we get to do something again that a lot of teams don’t even get to do and that’s play for a state championship. We’ve made it to this point and we’re going to represent KVA.”

After senior Joel Lewis shut out Lee Christian at the top of the first on the mound, senior R.J. Johnson stole two bases before getting batted in off a double from senior Chance Murphy to give KVA the early advantage.

Lewis would get in on the scoring for KVA with a double of his own, which batted two runners in and extended KVA’s advantage to four runs before the first inning concluded.

An errant throw from Lewis at the top of the second gave Lee Christian their first and only run of the afternoon. Inconsistent pitching from Lee Christian only served to benefit KVA as they proceeded to add more runs on the scoreboard.

By the end of the fourth inning, KVA had established a commanding 10-1 lead over Lee Christian. Junior Shane Musselman tallied KVA’s final run of the day at the bottom of the fifth to evoke the mercy rule and punch his team’s ticket into the NCISAA 1A Championship Series.

KVA’s victory on Tuesday improved their overall record to 11-7 on the 2021 season. While Rigsbee admitted that some minor inconsistencies and injuries have hampered KVA this year, he believes that the program is becoming more efficient at an ideal time.

“We have made a lot of strides,” Rigsbee said. “We’re now on a seven-game winning streak and everything is starting to come together. The kids are getting pumped up and I’m really looking forward to the weekend.”

The only team now standing in the way of a fourth straight baseball title for KVA is Grace Christian, who has not lost a single game in 20 matchups and opened the season by defeating KVA 12-7 on March 4.

Rigsbee said that KVA has changed tremendously since the last time they faced Grace Christian but affirmed that his players need to maintain the same energy they’ve shown the last few weeks in order to have a shot at the historic milestone.

“We have to come out like we’ve been doing,” Rigsbee said. “We have to keep the life and enthusiasm going and come out and just compete. If we do that, I think we’ll be fine.”

The first of three potential games between KVA and Grace Christian will take place at the latter’s field on Friday. The second matchup is scheduled for Saturday but will turn into a doubleheader if each school wins one game.