Senators blank Rebels in semifinals opener

By Jerry Holsworth — sports@nvdaily.com

NEW MARKET — Rested after two days off, Haymarket pitchers dominated New Market, 6-0, in Game 1 of the Valley Baseball League semifinals on Thursday.

“Those days off really set up their pitching staff,” New Market manager Lucas Jones said.

The Rebels’ main nemesis on the mound was Haymarket’s Grant Sasser (6-0). The North Carolina State freshman registered 10 strikeouts in six innings and gave up just one lonely hit.

New Market’s only hit was a single by McKinnon Langston to left in the first.

“He had all his pitches tonight and he was throwing them for strikes,” Langston said. “He was really tough. He just left a change-up hanging once and I was able to drive it. But I never dreamed that would be the only one we would get all night.”

Despite Sasser’s dominance on the mound, the Rebels were able to load the bases three times.

“He dominated us and kept us off-balance all night,” Jones said. “He’s been that good all season. We got some walks and some hit-by-pitches, and were able to get some scoring opportunities. But he made some big pitches when he needed to.”

After Langston’s hit in the first, a pair of Rebels walked to load the bases with one out. Sasser responded with a strikeout and a pop out to third to end the inning. It was typical of New Market’s luck all night.

“Grant’s stuff was really working tonight,” Haymarket manager Ryan Fecteau said. “He was really effective with his slider and used that to keep them off-balance. The guys out of the bullpen also did a great job.”

Jack Leathersich and Mark Andrews combined to keep the Rebels hitless in the last three innings of relief.

New Market starter Mike Graham pitched six solid innings, but Haymarket used the third inning to produce three runs on four hits. Tom Lastella got the big hit in the inning for the Senators, launching a two-run homer over the rightfield fence.

“We had that one bad inning and that really hurt us,” Jones said. “But overall, I thought our pitchers did pretty well. It was just a well-pitched game by both teams. The difference was they got the big hits when they needed to.”

Graham took the loss, allowing three runs on eight hits. He struck out two and walked four.

Despite the loss, the Rebels were far from discouraged with the outcome.

“We’ve been crushing the ball for the last few games, and you just knew a game like this was coming up,” Langston said. “This series is far from over, though. We’ve got two — and hopefully more games left in us.”