Harrisonburg travelled to Woodstock yesterday to attempt to complete in their scheduled doubleheader for the second day in a row…
The River Bandits had an inauspicious beginning to the afternoon, when Max Charlton, parking his vehicle on the street outside the ballpark, fumbled his sandwich and rammed a utility pole. His coaches said they heard the *crack* all the way from the dugout. The police closed off the street so the utility crews could fix the problem.
Despite that start, the Bandits struck first in the bottom of the first inning against Turk starter Logan McClure, when, with one out, Carson Ford walked, took second on a wild pitch, and advanced to third on the catcher’s throwing error. One out later, returning MVP Aidan Nagle walked as well, putting runners on the corners for Marco Martinez. Martinez hit the world’s shortest RBI single, cueing a grounder about six feet from home plate that brought in Ford. Jaylon Lee continued his hot hitting next by grounding a single into left field to score Nagle and put the Bandits up 2-0.
Brandon Haggerty, pitching in front of at least one scout who was very interested in Haggerty’s velocity, put up zeroes for the first three innings, but gave up the lead in the fourth when Conor Hartigan and Jordan Sweeney each hit solo home runs to almost straightaway center field- to almost the exact same spot, even! (I shamelessly looked at the numbers when I could see them; Haggerty hit as high as 89 with his fastball.)
Haggerty got out of some trouble in the fifth thanks to his bullpen. Harrisonburg’s Clay Lockett singled with one out, and went to second on a wild pitch. Carlos Marte then blooped a single into right field, but Lockett had to hold at third. Marte also advanced on a wild pitch, and, with two outs, Jake Rons came in, hit the first batter to load the bases, but induced a groundout from Austin Mueller to end the threat.
After four dominating innings by McClure, the Bandits exploded for three runs in the sixth inning against reliever Michael Rosario. Ford led off with a hard single up the middle, and moved to second when Rosario tried to pick him off but threw the ball away. Charles Loust hit a slow roller to short, and was safe at first and Ford moved to third on the shortstop’s throwing error. With the infield up tight, Nagle hit a grounder to second; even with the Turks shouting “Four!” the play went to first base, with Ford scoring. Martinez followed with a double to right field, scoring Loust, and Jacob Williams hit an excuse-me bloop single just over the first baseman’s head to score Martinez, making it 5-2 Bandits.
The Bandits brought in 2019’s top reliever Conor Miller to close things out in the seventh, and he set down the Turks 1-2-3 to finish up the win.
The Turks fell to 2-2 on the season, with Rosario receiving the loss. Woodstock raised its record to 4-2, with Dominic Baratta getting the win, and Miller the save.
Starting six different hitters from game one, the River Bandits still struck first in this one.
In the second inning against Turk starter Brett Whiteman, Charles Loust led off with a single, and moved to second on Kevin Navedo’s sacrifice. John Ackerman made the move pay off, singling to center and bringing Loust home. After a fly out, Zack Whitacre walked and Skyler Trevino reached on an error, loading the bases. Willy Escala then had an epic at-bat, spoiling pitch after pitch until he finally grounded a single up the middle, scoring both Ackerman and Whitacre, making the score 3-0.
The Bandits added two more in the fifth when the wheels came off the Turks’ defense. Both Trevino and Escala reached on errors, and Trevino eventually scored on a Loust sacrifice fly (to the second baseman!), and Escala scored on a Navedo single. The Bandits added their last run in the sixth when Justin Wachs slammed a home run to deep center.
The other story that was developing had to do with Jake Combs, Woodstock’s starter. He blasted through the Turks’ lineup and had a perfect game going all the way into the fifth, when a bad hop to the second baseman was scored a hit. The Turks got another baserunner in the sixth on a dropped pop up (that was a tough play, to be fair), that was also ruled a hit. Through six complete innings, Combs had allowed only two hits, both of which could have been handled by the defense. As it stood, he still had a two-hit shutout at that point, with no walks and seven strikeouts.
In the seventh, though, with lightning flickering to the West, Conor Hartigan led off with a double, and Travis Reifsnider singled him home, spoiling Combs’s shutout. Coach Mike Bocock replaced Combs at that point with a reliever, who promptly gave up a long home run to Jordan Sweeney, making the score 6-3. Then the lightning happened too close, and the game was halted. And then it rained, because we can’t get through a day in the Valley without rain right now.
The game was eventually ended because of the rain. As of now, the runs count for the Turks, making the final score Woodstock 6, Harrisonburg 3. However, normally if a game is ended because of weather, the game goes back to the last full inning, which would make the score 6-0 Woodstock.
At any rate, whether that last half inning counts or not, Harrisonburg falls to 2-3, and Woodstock is now 5-2. Whiteman got the loss, and Combs the win.