Surging Royals roll past Purcellville to win fourth straight
WINCHESTER – At the beginning of the week, Winchester dropped its third straight game to lower its record to 5-10 to end the first third of the season. Five days and four games later, the red hot Royals won its fourth straight on Saturday night, defeating the Purcellville Cannons, 7-4, at Bridgeforth Field.
“We are starting to click. We are starting to figure it out. We are starting to play better baseball. We are doing the small and little things right. We are taking better approaches at the plate and our pitchers are throwing strikes,” Royals manager Jacob Mays said.
After two late-inning victories on Wednesday and Friday, Winchester put up seven runs in the first three innings, proving to be enough of a cushion to cruise to victory.
“It was super nice to have that cushion,” Mays said. “We go by a lead 2-5-10 mentality and it was nice to get the two run lead. Then we got it to five after the end of the first third.”
Jordan Huntley drove in the first run with an RBI double. With two strikes, he stroked a line drive into the left center gap to score Matthew Holloway.
“It was early in the inning so I knew that he wasn’t going to sit here and get me with offspeed,” Huntley said. “He’s just going to try and come right after me, so I was just trying to attack early.”
William Welsh followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Royals a 2-0 lead after one inning.
“That was very huge. I think its 65-70 percent of the time that the first team that scores wins. It’s nice to set the tone,” Mays said.
In the third, Welsh drove in another with an RBI groundout. After Aaron Palensky drove in another with a sac fly, Domonic Peroni reached on an error and advanced to third on Hunter Murray’s single.
Chad Feely drove them both in with an opposite field triple to open up a 6-0 lead. Feely came around to score off an error, which ended the scoring for the Royals.
“The atmosphere is fun. It’s summer ball, so things are supposed to be fun. It’s not more like ‘oh I gotta do this’ or ‘what’ wrong with the swing.’ Guys are just playing and things are starting to click,” Huntley said.
As dialed in as the offense was, starting pitcher Nick Beardsley put in an equally impressive performance on the mound. He went seven innings and did not allow a hit until Matthew Koehler singled with one out in the fourth as part of a two-hit, five strikeout outing.
“He had a plus changeup today and he was spotting his fastball. His slider, it was good. He was getting the curveball in for strikes. He had command of four pitches tonight, and any time you have that you’re going to have a great chance to win,” Mays said.
Beardsley induced an ample amount of ground balls, as eight of his 21 outs (39 percent) were dribblers.
“Competing down in the zone. When you leave the ball in the zone, averages are going to go up, home runs are going to go up and runs are going to go up. When you compete down in the zone, you are going to get a lot of ground balls and it helped that the umpire was giving the low strike tonight,” Mays said.
Trey Pusser entered in the eighth and broke the shutout as Gunnar Ricketts scored off an error. He did not record an out in the ninth, and gave up three additional runs before Bryan Whitacre came on to close out the game.
Huntley finished 3-for-4 with two doubles and a pair of RBI tonight, raising his batting average to a respectable .241. He is 6-for-his-last-13 in his last three games with seven RBI in that stretch.
“I’m starting to see things, starting to get into a rhythm, get back to myself and understand what I’m able to do. Just looking for certain pitches and not missing them,” Huntley said.
Winchester hits the road on Sunday to take on the Staunton Braves. Ryan Kennedy gets the ball and a second chance, as he was tagged for six runs in six innings when the Royals last faced Staunton in a 9-1 loss. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. at Gypsy Hill Park.