By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
STEPHENS CITY -- Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy was fresh off a victory and Randolph-Macon Academy hadn't played during their two-week spring break.
Somehow the rain held off during Tuesday afternoon's game and the two baseball squads engaged in a three-hour offensive battle, with the Patriots holding on for a 13-11 win.
"It was our first game back in two weeks, and we had just one practice," R-MA coach Robert Locklear said. "That was yesterday, in 80 degrees, and we come out here and it's 40-degree weather."
The Patriots jumped ahead to an 11-1 lead after three innings, then, in a reversal of fortune, the Yellow Jackets poured on 10 runs over the next four frames.
Randolph-Macon batters accounted for 15 hits, but the Yellow Jackets pitchers issued 11 free passes and made two wild pitches, while the defense committed three errors.
In his first start for the Patriots, freshman Michael Powell gave up only one run on three hits, with four strikeouts and two walks in his first three innings of work and earned the win.
Powell got into trouble in the fourth as the Yellow Jackets got a walk, two infield singles, two bloop singles, and a wild pitch to ring up four runs.
Senior Tyler Braun-Duin relived Powell and got Michael Mosczczynski to fly out, ending the Randolph-Macon uprising.
"I took deep breaths between pitches, and my infield was working for me," Powell said. "Then they got several infield hits. That got to me and I got out of the game, mentally."
Kyle Waters didn't have it so easy in his first outing for the Yellow Jackets. In the first inning, after issuing a one-out walk to Kyle Ewing, Braun-Duin tripled to center field, knocking in Ewing.
One out later, Bryan Kyser hit a line drive that landed just inside the foul line and rolled to the right-field corner for a double, plating Braun-Duin.
In the second frame, the Patriots parlayed a solo hit into four more runs, by virtue of an error, a hit batsman, and a walk to load the bases for Ewing's two-run single to left-center.
Two more walks and two wild pitches accounted for the third and fourth runs. The Patriots onslaught continued in the third frame, as they batted around, adding five more runs on two hits, four walks, an error, and a sacrifice fly.
Then Ryan Pile moved from right field to the mound for the Yellow Jackets, and clamped down by no-hitting the Patriots the rest of the way.
Still, the Patriots managed single runs in fifth and sixth innings with two walks, a hit batsman, an error, and a sacrifice fly. Every batter in the Yellow Jackets lineup got at least one hit and the team tallied 15.
The top bat was wielded by Mosczczynski, who went 3-for-4, with a triple, three RBIs and two runs. Waters was 3-for-5 (triple, 4 RBIs), and lead-off hitter Pile went 2-for-5 for Randolph-Macon.
The Yellow Jackets came up in the top of the seventh inning, trailing 13-9, as the elapsed game time approached three hours. Dungan Will led off with a walk, followed by Chris Abare's infield hit to third. A wild pitch by Ewing enabled the runners to advance to second and third, which brought on Dan Jones to relieve him. Jones stuck out Pile, then walked Josh Schooler to load the bases.
Waters struck out, then Mosczczynski knocked a solid single to left, plating Will and Abare to close the gap to 13-11.
With Walsh at the plate, Schooler stole third. With a 1-2 count on Walsh, Jones let loose the seventh wild pitch of the game, and Schooler took off for home.
With Jones blocking the plate, Schooler was out on a close play at the plate to end the game.
"'Don't go. Don't go' is what I was yelling from the third base coach's box," Locklear said. "[Jones] did a nice job of blocking the plate, so they got the out on a bang-bang play.
"The walks we gave up early in the game hurt us, and we gave up about five runs on wild pitches. That counts for a lot in a two-run game."
"I liked the way we started off, going up 11-1," Patriots coach Bobby Wheelock said. "Then they starting hitting the ball, and maybe I left Michael [Powell] in a little bit too long.
"But I've gotta give them credit for hitting the ball. It was cold and a lot of people had to use their arms, being as it was our second game in two days. We don't play again until Monday."