Winchester Royals fall to Harrisonburg in season opener, 4-2
HARRISONBURG -- After retiring the first batter of the eighth inning, Winchester Royals starting pitcher Nick Beardsley allowed a single up the middle to Cameron Irvine and walked Paul Castillo.
With the game tied 2-2 and a pair of left-handed hitters due up , Royals head coach Jacob Mays took the ball from his starter and brought in southpaw Ryan Flores to record the final two outs of the frame.
"We get into a ball game going into the seventh or eighth, we want to do matchups," Mays said.
Flores retired the next hitter, Luke Nussman, on three consecutive sliders. After popping the strike zone with another slider to Brett Whelton, the chances of escaping the jam with the game still tied seemed realistic.
"Slider is Flores' best pitch. (Whelton) put a heck of a swing on the first one. I said alright I need to go inside fastball," Mays said.
However, Flores threw his fifth consecutive slider, and Whelton was ready for it. He hammered it to center field. Justin Meekins sprinted towards the 400 sign, looked at the wall and back at the ball.
"I second guessed myself, went slider again and (Whelton) was waiting for it," Mays said.
Meekins stretched as far as his six foot, two inch body would allow, but did not make the catch. The ball took a bounce and kicked off the center field wall. Whelton slid into third with a two-RBI triple to give the Turks a 4-2 lead.
"It's on me. It's not Flores' fault at all. He's just doing what I ask him to do," Mays said.
In the ninth inning, Winchester threatened to comeback as Samyr Santos and William Welsh led off with singles. However, pinch-runner Matthew Holloway got picked off at second base to dampen the momentum.
Chad Feeley worked a 2-2 count before striking out to end the game to mark the Royals' first loss of the season at the hands of the Harrisonburg Turks at Veteran Memorial Park on Monday night.
"If that's the worst thing we do all season is get picked off at second then I'll be okay with that," Mays said.
Beardsley's final line of 7.1 innings pitched, seven hits and four earned runs did not nearly reflect the quality of his start.
"(Harrisonburg's) hits were not strongly hit," Beardsley said. "I thought I hit my spots well but they just got a little barrel. Enough to get it through the infield or at least get it slow enough to where they could beat it out at first."
In addition to those two runs in the eighth, Beardsley allowed the other two to score in the fourth. With runners on second and third with one out, Tristan Baker and Kyle Johnson each singled to give the Turks a 2-1 lead.
"I'm glad (Coach Mays) gave me that eighth. I was still feeling good; I wasn't tired," Beardsley said. "I felt like I shouldn't have been in the pitch count I was through eight. A lot of deep counts were costing my pitch count."
Winchester's first run came in the first inning off of an RBI groundout from Chris Salvey. In the fifth, Feeley singled past a diving