By Robert Edmonds - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Late-inning heroics and a bit of lady luck gave Front Royal a come-from-behind victory in front of their home fans Tuesday night.
The Cardinals found themselves with winning opportunities in three of their final four at-bats, but it took until the 11th inning for things to come together as the they laid claim to a 3-2 victory over Waynesboro.
"We may get down, but we are never out," Cardinals center fielder Will Walsh said after the game. "We are that kind of team. Our chemistry and understanding of each other has really come together and we are catching up and have learned each others' game, and it's starting to show."
Tied 2-2, Scott Thornburg started off the bottom half of the 11th inning by reaching base when Generals shortstop Zephan Guyear bobbled a ground ball hit his way. Thornburg moved to second on a sacrifice bunt on the next play. Pinch hitter AJ Albee then reached base on an error by Jonathan Clinard, putting runners on the corners.
Drew Gadaire then sent a shot to third base that was bobbled and then barehanded by Grant Fillipitch, who then threw out Thornburg at home to keep his team alive. Walsh then wasted little time when he came to the plate to turn off the lights. Walsh sent a pitch into left field for his third single on the night, easily scoring Albee and sending the Cardinals into a frenzy as they rushed their teammates on the field.
"I think the game tonight showed our team's resiliency and character," Walsh said. "We had a couple opportunities early on that we didn't cash in on, but when we got runners at second and third in the 11th we made sure to make it happen."
When the night began, it appeared that both teams' pitchers were in control of their opponents. Both starting pitchers held the opposing team scoreless for the first five innings until Cardinals starter Dan Smith gave up a two-out score when the Generals hit three singles in a row to go ahead 1-0. Smith left the game after giving up the run, but recorded five strikeouts and only allowed one walk in his performance.
"Dan [Smith] had a very good outing for us tonight," Cardinals manager Joe Scarano said. "He only gave up one run and shut the team down while he was on the mound. Our defense played pretty well and was good enough to keep us in the game and give us the opportunity to win."
Generals ace Taylor Sandefur, not to be outdone, pitched seven scoreless innings while mowing down seven Cardinals batters at the plate. It wasn't until the eighth inning against reliever Wade Bilbrey that the Cardinals lit up the scoreboard when Pete Greskoff hit a two-run double to left field that gave his team the lead heading into the final inning.
The Cardinals were unable to hold onto the lead, giving up the tying run in the top half of the ninth to set up the showdown in extra innings.
"What I've learned so far this season is that our opponents are forcing us to be at our best every game," Scarano said. "We have been up to the challenge in the last two extra-inning games. I would have liked to finish tonight in nine, but it was a good experience I think it will be valuable to us down the stretch."