By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW MARKET -- In the first of four scheduled engagements in the Valley League season's "Battle of I-81," the Woodstock River Bandits traveled 20 miles down the interstate to take on the New Market Rebels on Sunday night.
River Bandits third baseman Daniel Rockhold, a University of South Florida sophomore, had a lot of extra orange on his green and orange uniform after the game, added in achieving his second web gem of the night, diving to his left to snag a hot grounder on his belly, collecting a lot of orange clay dust on his shirt, then jumping up to throw out Rusty Smith in the third inning.
Rockhold's first special play came in the first inning when he moved to his right and jumped to snag Francisco Ramirez's sure line drive base hit for the second out after the Rebels had scored two runs.
Rockhold also got Woodstock's offense started with a two-out RBI double to left in the first inning, driving in Ryan Garcia with the River Bandits' first run.
Woodstock (5-2) used its typically effective offense to break out of a 3-3 tie, sending 10 batters to the plate to score six runs on six hits in the sixth inning, then held on as the Rebels scored two in the eighth and one in the ninth, for a 9-6 River Bandits win.
Woodstock's second run in the opening frame came when Billy Barber singled, moved to third on Rockhold's double, then crossed the plate on a Brian Edelen wild pitch.
The Rebels answered in the bottom of the first with first-pitch singles by Trey Karlen and Rusty Smith off Woodstock starter Bo Daves.
With one out, third baseman Jordan Owen drove in Karlen and Smith with a line-drive single to left, just inside the foul line. Owen's 3-for-4 performance (double, two singles, two RBI) increased his batting average to .417.
Woodstock scored an unearned run in the third when Foster Dunigan earned a lead-off walk, and advanced to second and third on groundouts.
Rockhold reached on an error by shortstop Will Faulkner, with Dunigan scoring on the play.
Ramirez's solo home run in the fourth knotted the score at three for the Rebels.
Woodstock had a breakout sixth inning, sending 10 batters to the plate to score six runs on six hits, along with a walk and two Rebels errors, to take a 9-3 lead.
Ken Burns drove in a run with a single to center Garcia (2-for-5) drove in two runs with a single to left.
Daves completed seven innings, giving up three runs on eight hits, with four strikeouts and two walks, to earn the win and improve his record to 2-0.
The Rebels (2-5) still had plenty of fight left.
In the eighth, reliever Josh White retired the first two New Market hitters, then gave up a single to Ryan Williams. Catcher Joe Maloney then drove a fast ball over the right-field fence for a two-run homer to close the gap to 9-5.
In their last at bat New Market added another run as reliever Michael Manfro hit Trey Karlen with a pitch, then uncorked two wild pitches, putting Karlen on third, and he scored the sixth New Market run on Rusty Smith's groundout. Dan Schafferman then grounded out to first base to end the game.
Holding on to their early leads has been a challenge for Woodstock.
In their six previous games, the River Bandits have scored 27 runs in the first seven frames, while holding opponents to only six. In the eighth inning and beyond, Woodstock has scored only seven times, while giving up 18 runs.