Murray and Valdes make debuts, but Purcellville defeats Winchester Royals, 9-3

WINCHESTER – The Royals saw the debuts of Hunter Murray and Emilio Valdes against the Purcellville Cannons at Bridgeforth Field on Monday night. Although, it was not a debut to remember for Murray, who started the game and allowed six runs in three innings. Valdes went 0.2 innings and permitted two runs on four walks as the Cannons defeated Winchester, 9-3.

“Murray’s got good stuff, he was just up in the zone. Same with Valdes, just a little erratic. Some things we need to clean up,” Royals manager Jacob Mays said. “They have good stuff; they can help us. Some of them haven’t thrown in a while.”

The Cannons pushed across the first two runs of the game in the first innings. Tek Whyte, in his first VBL at-bat, led off the game with a home run over center field. After Murray loaded the bases with one out, a wild pitch brought home the second run, as part of a 34-pitch inning.

Winchester answered in the second inning. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Matthew Holloway hit a double play ball to Whyte at shortstop. He fielded the ball, flipped it to Kam Armstrong, who overthrew Christian Garabedian trying to complete the double play. Two runs scored from that play to tie the score.

The offense created numerous opportunities throughout the game, but was unable to push runs across. Jordan Huntley’s RBI single in the third inning was the only other source of production at the plate.

“It’s the same thing we’ve been snake bitten by all season. We get runners in scoring position, boom we go out with a strike out,” Mays said. “We have to put the ball in play. It’s just a matter of just keep working at it and it will figure itself out.”

On the other hand, Will Welsh tallied two of Winchester’s eight hits, breaking a 1-for-12 slump at the plate.

“We talked in the office and said ‘when you were hitting best here what were you doing?’ He said driving balls back side, so he really got back into doing that today and had a lot of success,” Mays said.

Joe Sadallah also finished with a multi-hit night (2-for-5), and extended his hitting streak to six games.

Purcellville scored six runs across the third and fourth innings and another in the seventh to cap a nine run downpour. Armstrong’s RBI single broke a 2-2 tie in the third, and Sergio Lopez’s three-run home run later in the inning opened up a 6-2 lead.

In the fourth, a passed ball scored Whyte. James Grant came in to relieve Valdes of a bases loaded jam. Grant hit Armstrong with his first pitch, but retired the next batter to get out of the inning.

Grant and Jake Posey combined for 4.1 innings of shutout relief, as Posey allowed the only hit between them.

“The guys that have been struggling, Grant and Posey, came in tonight and showed that they can be the guy so it’s all about making progress at this point,” Mays said.

In the fourth inning, Chris Salvey took a pitch directly to the back of the helmet, and was visibly shaken up at the plate. After staying on the base paths, he exited when it was time to go back in the field.

“We think he’s got a concussion. He was a little dazed over at first. The more we looked into it, the more we did not want to send him back out there, so he’s day-to-day right now,” Mays said.

Counting tonight’s game, the Royals have finished the first third of its season with a 5-10 record. Although this is not the ideal start Mays was hoping for, he was reassuring that there is no need to panic.

“It’s just a matter of people getting on the same page and putting all three phases together. It’s not about how you start, but how you finish,” Mays said.

The Royals finish a three-game home stand on Tuesday when the Woodstock River Bandits come to town. Evan Richardson takes the mound at 7 p.m.

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