by Maddie McNamee
The Staunton Braves defeated the Charlottesville Tom Sox 3-1 on Friday night (8/2) in game one of the South Division Championship Series at C-VILLE Weekly Ballpark. While the weather, a major threat coming into the day, was on the ‘Sox’s side; the hitting, unfortunately, was not.
A Purcellville Cannon during the regular season, Avery Short (Siena) put on his Tom Sox uniform on Friday night for his first start in C’ville. What started as possibly some newcomer nerves turned to an impressive start for Short. He walked Kent Rooklin, Staunton’s leadoff batter, to start the night; then Jacob Selden followed with a single to advance Rooklin to third. Ryan McCarty then approached the plate with runners on the corners and hit a home run to give the Braves an early 3-0 lead. That was all the action Short allowed in the first – and the rest of the game, as he adjusted to the Charlottesville environment and pitched a scoreless four innings following the three-run opening frame.
Hayden Moore started for the Staunton Braves and shut out the ‘Sox for the first two innings. In the bottom of the third, James Ingram (Johns Hopkins) led off with a walk, then Cayman Richardson (Virginia) followed with a single. Richardson was able to advance to second on a throwing error, which allowed Ingram to make it home and put Charlottesville on the board, 3-1.
Moore continued to exemplify himself as an ace after the one-run third inning and followed it up by pitching three more scoreless innings after that – bringing his total to six complete frames on the night.
Carden Mellown (Huntingdon) went in for the sixth for the Tom Sox. He allowed no damage and kept the score where it was, only giving up two hits in his two total innings of pitching.
Eric O’Brien went in to pitch the seventh and eighth innings for Staunton and kept the Tom Sox at bay, surrendering no runs. The ‘Sox attempted to get their bats hot in the eighth, as Richardson hit a single with two outs and then proceeded to steal second on a wild pitch. Thomas Francisco followed with a single to put runners on the corners for a potential late-game rally, but O’Brien was able to induce a flyout to end the inning.
Charlottesville’s Sam Crawford (Georgia Tech) came out for the eighth and ninth innings. Crawford collected four strikeouts through his two innings, not surrendering a hit nor a run.
In what turned into a pitcher’s duel, the Staunton Braves came out on top – their success in the first inning was enough to claim the first game of the South Division Championship Series. The Tom Sox hope to reclaim victory Saturday (8/3) in Staunton, where they will play game two at 7:30 p.m.