By Ben Brooks - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- The defending Valley Baseball League champion Haymarket Senators stepped off the bus swinging the bats on Tuesday night at Bridgeforth Field.
And if you ask several of the Winchester pitchers, they might still be taking their cuts.
Haymarket set the tone early by batting around in a five-run first inning. By the time the Senators finished their offensive onslaught, they had amassed 21 hits, including nine for extra bases, in a 16-6 victory. Not only did Haymarket's 21 hits equal its total for the first three games of the season, they were also more than the Bridgeforth Field scoreboard could accommodate.
Third baseman Brant Jones led the Senators (2-2) with a 5-for-6 performance at the plate and five RBIs. The Longwood University junior had a two-run double in the first and a two-run triple in the Senators' six-run fifth inning. Jones, who finished with three doubles, came within a home run of the cycle. Overall, four Haymarket players drove in at least two runs.
"Like they say, hitting gets contagious, and that was proven tonight," said Jones, who got some good-natured ribbing from teammates for his last two doubles reaching the warning track instead of going over the fence for a home run.
"You don't want to change your swing," Jones said. "If you just try to hit line drives, that's when you'll hit home runs."
Jimmy Dowdell went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Tyler White was 3-for-5 with two RBIs, including a towering home run in the fifth, and Sean Lyons drove in a pair of runs.
Benefiting from Haymarket's hitting barrage was starting pitcher Steve Simon. The right-hander from Southern Connecticut scattered five hits and struck out nine without allowing a walk in six innings of work.
One bright spot for the Royals (2-2) was Cory Spangenberg's four-hit game. The VMI freshman scored in the first inning on an error and hit a towering solo homer in the third. Winchester added four runs in the ninth to make the score more respectable. Three came on Blake Crabtree's bases-clearing triple that bounced over Josh Turner's head in right.
"We got behind early, and it was a tough hole to dig out of," Royals manager John Lowery said. "That's the way it goes sometimes."
The Royals used four pitchers. Kyle Clark took the loss after going three innings and giving up five runs. The Senators knocked reliever Adam Atkins around for eight runs in 1 1/3 innings.