Rebels' five-run seventh inning leads to Winchester Royals loss, 12-5

WINCHESTER – Bullpen struggles plagued the Winchester Royals once again as the New Market Rebels put up five runs in the seventh and three in the eighth to defeat the Royals at Bridgeforth Field on Thursday night, 12-5.

“We played good but we kind of stopped in the sixth and seventh inning and slowed down a lot,” Royals outfielder Jordan Huntley said after the loss.

Similar to the last meeting between these two teams on June 12th, Winchester held a 5-4 lead heading into the seventh. Trey Pusser took the mound in his Valley League debut, and immediately walked Chase Sudduth. After inducing a fly ball out, Pusser walked two more batters to load the bases.

Royals manager then called James Grant out of the bullpen. On his first pitch, Carter Smith sent a deep fly to center field. Masen Prososky settled under it, but the ball kicked off the heel of his glove. Just one run scored to tie the ball game.

Oraj Anu stepped to the plate, who had been called upon to pinch hit earlier in the game. The leftie squared up a 2-1 fastball from Grant and took it the other way over the left field fence for a grand slam. After retaining a one-run lead for three innings, the Royals’ bullpen subsided and allowed the Rebels to take a 9-5 lead.

“Pitchers kind of struggled a little bit but it’s a team game,” Huntley said. “The defense kind of was shaky.”

New Market opened up a 12-5 advantage after a three-run eighth and shut the door on its seventh win of the season. Collectively, the Royals’ pitching staff allowed 12 free passes throughout the ballgame (eight walks and four hit batsmen).

Nick Beardsley made his third start of the season and went just three innings. He permitted four runs on four hits and walked two batters while striking out five. Although, he did exit the game with the lead as the offense put up five runs in the first three innings.

Winchester grabbed an early lead thanks to an RBI single from Samyr Santos. A couple batters later with the bases loaded, Chad Feeley grounded into a double play to end the inning. However, Aaron Palensky crossed home plate before the tag was made at second to double the Royals’ lead after one inning.

“We got an early start. Things were going good for us. We had some clutch hits, we had a lot of stolen bags tonight,” Huntley said.

After New Market rallied for four runs in the third, the Royals answered in the bottom of the frame with three runs. Joe Sadallah reached on a hit by pitch to lead off and stole second base. Prososky took an inside fastball to left field to bring in Sadallah and cut New Market’s lead in half.

With two outs, Huntley approached the plate. He turned on the first pitch and sent a sizzling line drive to left field, scoring two runs and giving Winchester the lead back, 5-4.

“I just knew he was trying to bust people in with the fastball early, so I was just ready to hit the fastball,” Huntley said.

The Mount Olive College product has been swinging the bat well recently after a rough start to the year. He is 5-for-15 in his last five games with three RBI and five walks. Huntley feels that he has finally shaken off some rust and looks to return to his JUCO All-American form.

“Just going back to me. Honestly just honing fastballs and just knowing what I can do and just looking for what I know I can drive,” Huntley said.

The Royals (5-8) travel to Strasburg on Friday to face the Express (3-10) in North Division action. First pitch is slated for 7:00 p.m.

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