By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
WOODSTOCK -- The Waynesboro Generals and Woodstock River Bandits, both with 3-1 records and sharing the Valley League top spot with the Staunton Braves, faced off Thursday night.
The River Bandits were riding a three-game winning streak and it looked like win number four would be a cinch as they cruised to a seven-run lead through seven innings before holding on for a 7-5 victory.
Woodstock starting pitcher Vincent Vioro, a University of Pennsylvania sophomore, allowed only three hits, struck out seven and walked only one in his seven shutout innings.
But when Vioro reached 114 pitches, mostly fastballs, in striking out Chris Colquhoun to lead off the eighth, Cody Smith came on in relief.
"It felt pretty good," Vioro (1-1) said. "Mostly fastballs -- that's the way I pitch. I like to attack hitters and I'm working on a slider. I stuck with the fastball, with a couple of change-ups in there. It's my first start since the very beginning of May, so [coach Donn Foltz] figured we're going to have a long a baseball season, so they don't want to overuse me now."
Billy Barber got a key hit when he hit a sinking liner to center with two out and the bases loaded in the Woodstock seventh, knocking in three and doubling the River Bandits' lead to 6-0. Center fielder Drew Turocy dove for the ball, but couldn't make the catch as the ball rolled to the fence.
"It's great to help get a cushion for the team," Barber said. "We were up 3-0, so that really helped us at the time, so we could cruise at the end of the game.
"Personally, I've been struggling a little bit, and working extra in the [batting] cage, so it was nice to get something on a positive note to help the team out. It was my third at bat [against Hernandez], so I'd seen his curveball and it was hanging curve I hit."
The River Bandits' bullpen struggled as Smith was followed by Joshua White and J.D Ingalls as the Generals batted around in the eighth to score three runs on one hit, three walks, a hit batsman and an error. Waynesboro left the bases loaded when White got Matt Malloy to pop out.
The Generals had plenty more scoring opportunities in the ninth inning as they got eight batters to the plate.
Colquhoun lead off with single off White, who then walked three batters in succession, pushing Colquhoun across the plate with Waynesboro's fourth run.
Ingalls relieved White with the based loaded fanned Drew Turocy for the first out, then walked Grant Fillipitch to move T.J. Kuban across the plate for run No. 5.
Ingalls then fanned designated hitter Jared King when King couldn't quite hold up on the third strike, then bare-handed Kevin McCall's tapper back to the mound to snuff out the Generals' big comeback bid.
"Vincent [Vioro] really pitched well," Foltz said. "He had to come in against Haymarket and work a really long time opening night, giving me three unscheduled innings, and he looked good that night.
"All of our starters are giving top-notch efforts. And we've been putting up some offense behind them, and, for the most part, playing good defense. We had only one error tonight. You're not going to get complete games every night, so you have to be able to rely on the bullpen, so they're just going to have to step it up."