By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
WOODSTOCK -- The Front Royal Cardinals confirmed their turnaround from a seven-game losing streak with their second win in row, riding a five-run sixth inning to top the host Woodstock River Bandits, 6-3, in Wednesday night Valley League action.
Righthander Frank Zier (Campbell University) tossed six good innings for the Cardinals, giving up one run on six hits, six strikeouts, two walks, and two hit batsmen to gain the win and improve to 5-2.
He was relieved after 92 pitches, using only six in the third frame, by Colin McGowan.
"I pretty much wanted to just keep 'em off balance, mixing slider and changeup, and hit spots all day to see if it would work," Zier said. "I got tired there at the end."
Centerfielder Will Walsh (Seton Hall) led the Cardinals' attack at the plate with a 3-for-4 performance (one double, one RBI, one run) and improved his batting average to .316.
"It's a little easier offensively when you've got pitching from Frank [Zier] like that, he kind of takes the pressure off the offense," Walsh said. "We missed some opportunities, and I don't think we played our best game, but we have two wins in a row now, and we've just gotta keep moving forward, look at it a game at a time, take the win, and look ahead."
Starter Bo Daves worked five innings and allowed one run on four hits, five strikeouts and two walks.
He was relieved by Cody Smith to start the sixth, and Smith poked a hornet's nest as the Cardinals touched him up for five runs on five hits as he was charged with the loss (0-1).
In Front Royal's 4-1 victory over Winchester on Tuesday night, Cardinals manager Joe Scarano was ejected in the top of the sixth inning for onfield arguing of a reversed call regarding a double play executed by the Cardinals. It was his third ejection, which required his suspension for tonight's game.
Jack Weghorst was the acting head coach for the Cardinals, who returned to .500 at 17-17, tied with New Market for sixth place, with 10 games remaining in the regular season.
A continuing bright spot for the River Bandits is the stellar plate performance by Michael Garza (Georgetown), who went 4-for-5 (one triple, one RBI, one run) to increase his stratospheric batting average to .410 to join Rudy Flores of Haymarket (.423) and Cory Spangenburg of Winchester (.421) as the leagues' only .400 hitters.
Garza leads the league in stolen bases with 16 on 19 attempts.
"We just got behind early tonight and we came out a little flat and they jumped ahead, went up by six, and we were just kind of chasing from there," Garza said. "It's tough to play in that situation."
"You don't have to worry about [Garza], he's going to give you it all every night he comes in," Woodstock manager Donn Foltz said.
Woodstock (14-19) had won two of their previous three games against Front Royal and is now tied with Staunton for ninth place.
"We were fairly flat tonight," Foltz said. "We just couldn't get the pitching to work."
The River Bandits have 11 games remaining in the 44-game regular season. The top eight teams will qualify for postseason play.