Winchester staves off late comeback, defeats Front Royal
WINCHESTER – The offense produced 10 runs in the first three innings as the Royals took down the top team in the North, Front Royal, 10-8 at Bridgeforth Field on Saturday night.
“We’ve handled the top teams very well this year. The bottom teams we struggle against because we kind of stoop to their level. It just shows that when we are playing at the level we should be playing at, we can take care of any team in this league,” Royals manager Jacob Mays said.
Front Royal gained an early lead with an RBI single from Brady Ballstadt in the first inning. After Joe Sadallah and Jordan Huntley each singled to open the bottom of the frame, Aaron Palensky slapped a two-RBI double to left field to give the Royals a lead, 2-1.
In the next inning, Will Welsh stroked an opposite field double to start and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Lucas Oxendine drew a walk before Sadallah brought in Welsh with a sacrifice fly. A couple batters later, Samyr Santos unleashed a two-run home run over left field that knocked starting pitcher Austin DesRoche out of the game.
“(Santos is) a catalyst for our offense. Any time he doesn’t roll, we don’t roll…He’s made some adjustments to his swing and it seems to be paying off right now,” Mays said.
Chad Feely dropped an RBI single in to left field later in the inning to open up a 6-1 lead after two innings. Front Royal got a run back in the third, with an RBI single straight up the middle that struck starting pitcher Nick Beardsley.
He remained in the game, however, going four plus innings and scattering 11 hits and six runs (three earned) while striking out one. He started the fifth inning but did not record an out after facing four hitters.
“Just getting behind hitters. Any time we’ve struggled all season and give up hits is because we get behind hitters,” Mays said.
In the home half of the third, Winchester immediately loaded the bases with no outs. Jordan Huntley stepped to the plate with a prime opportunity to put the game out of reach. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, he slugged a no-doubt grand slam over the left field fence to give the Royals a 10-1 lead.
“We did exactly what we needed to do. We stayed in our approaches all night,” Mays said. “Early in the game we got our pitches, and we didn’t miss them.”
The Cardinals did not respond until the fifth innings. Beardsley faced the first four batters od the frame, and allowed a run to score before leaving Hank Biggs the bases loaded and none out.
Biggs recorded the first out of the innings, but allowed a towering double to score two runs and trim the lead to 10-4. Then a single from Brandon Krennrich scored two more and cut the deficit to three runs. Biggs exited with two outs in the fifth and the bases loaded. Although, Kody Gardere stopped the bleeding with a strikeout in his first batter out of the bullpen.
In the eighth, Front Royal threatened again. After plating a run with a double from Sam Little, reliever James Grant loaded the bases with two outs. Mays signaled for Bryan Whitacre to come into the game, who struck out the next batter to escape the jam.
Again in the ninth, Whitacre issued a walk and surrendered a double to give Front Royal the tying runs in scoring position with one out. After electing to intentionally walk Andrew Burden, Trent Sidwell entered and recorded the next two outs to save the game.
The Royals (16-14) travel to Purcellville to duel the Cannons (19-12) on Sunday night. Ryan Kennedy gets the ball at 7 p.m. at Fireman’s Field