By Jeremy Stafford - firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW MARKET -- Something had to give.
Although New Market and Rockbridge both lamented identical one-win records heading into their Wednesday night game at Rebel Park, the teams were indeed polar opposites of each other.
After three games, Rockbridge had already scored 25 runs and totaled 24 RBIs. It ranked first in the Valley Baseball League in batting average (.310) and RBIs, and ranked second in slugging (.425).
New Market, on the other hand, ranked eighth in the league in average (.227) and sat at the bottom of the rankings in runs scored (seven) and RBIs (seven).
Yet Rockbridge had given up runs just as often as it scored them, while New Market had given up only 12 runs, tied for third fewest.
So what gave? New Market's anemic offense against Rockbridge's porous defense? Or was it Rockbridge's incendiary hitting grinding a win out of a solid New Market infield?
Immediately following New Market's 3-0 win, it was still difficult to tell.
The first three innings went something like a dull display of monkey see, monkey do. If New Market pitcher Jacob Guengerich retired three of the four batters he faced, so too did Rockbridge pitcher Chris Zbin.
Both pitchers worked no-hitters into the third.
"We knew that they could swing the sticks," New Market coach Corey Paluga said. "For the most part, we've had solid pitching performances all year, and again, starter to closer, they did a hell of a job of keeping them off balance.
"Early on, that's what you have to do, is mix up off-speed and be able to throw inside."
But with the top of New Market's lineup hitless through 5 2/3 innings -- New Market's top five batters, in fact, went hitless throughout the game -- the Rebels relied instead on their No. 8 hitter, Jovan Rohena.
Rohena, a shortstop from Trujilo Alto, Puerto Rico, is the No. 3 hitter at Newberry College, and has made a living, he said, chopping down fastballs.
On Wednesday he had two hits, a double and three RBIs, a powerhouse of a night by Wednesday's standards.
"I was kinda worried about the wood bat, because it was my first time playing in a wood bat league," Rohena said.
"But I like swinging at fastballs, I don't wait for fastballs -- throw me a fastball, if it's not a ball, I'm gonna hack it."
Guengerich was rewarded with a no-decision for his efforts, and middle reliever Max Kreuter (1-1) earned the win.