Winchester erases four-run deficit to stun Cardinals, 8-7

WINCHESTER – Situational hitting and producing with runners in scoring position has not been a friend of the Royals this season. However, that narrative was reversed as Winchester erased a 7-3 deficit to avenge Tuesday’s loss to the Front Royal Cardinals at Bridgeforth Field on Friday night, 8-7.

“We always seem to come and play our best game against the best competition,” Royals manager Jacob Mays said. “This is the first night I’ve actually seen us comeback. We were down 7-3 and we fought back and didn’t give up the whole entire game…That just shows the development we’re making.”

After trading leads in the first couple innings, Front Royal built a comfortable lead with a three-run fourth inning.

After recording the first two outs, starting pitcher Anthony Simonelli allowed a single to Ramon Miranda before Spencer Packard laced a double. Christian Avant, who already belted a solo home run in the first inning and hit a two-RBI double in the second, sent a tailing line drive into the right field gap for his second double of the night that drove in two more runs.

This extended the Cardinals’ lead to 6-3, while giving Avant five RBI in just four innings.

“(Avant) kept battling every time I faced him and I felt like he was just seeing everything I threw him really well,” Simonelli said. “It definitely wasn’t my best outing but at the end of the day the team won and I gave them a chance to win and that is my goal every time I’m out there.”

Alex Briggs opened up a four-run lead with an RBI single later in the inning. All but one run produced from Front Royal came with two outs. Simonelli was charged with four earned runs on nine hits over six innings.

“Front Royal is a very good team. They are No. 1 in our division for a reason. We were up in the zone all night. Once we got down in the zone, we were able to quiet their bats a little bit,” Mays said.

It was not until the sixth inning until Winchester started to mount a comeback. With two outs, Johnny Butler (2-for-4, 2 RBI) slapped a single up the middle to cut the deficit to 7-4.

“(The offense) didn’t try to do too much at the plate. We’ve been stressing middle-back side all season,” Mays said.

After James Grant pitched a scoreless seventh, Winchester rallied for two more runs in their half. Masen Prososky reached on an error before Samyr Santos stroked a gapper to put runners in scoring position. Ray Gil (1-for-3, 2 RBI) and Jordan Huntley (2-for-3, 3 RBI) each sent fly balls deep enough to score Prososky and Santos to trim the Cardinals lead to just one run.