By Robert Edmonds - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- An early deficit was too much for the Front Royal Cardinals to overcome as they dropped their fourth straight game, 9-6, when they hosted the Waynesboro Generals on Thursday night.
"I am very happy with the way we responded tonight," Generals manager Derek McDaniel said. "We have been off for four nights now and we played a total team game tonight. It wasn't just one or two players -- we had production from the whole team tonight and that is what we need this time of the year."
The Generals jumped on Cardinals starter Blake Ford and forced him out after scoring nine runs in just 4 2/3 innings. Although Ford gave up numerous hits throughout the Waynesboro lineup, he didn't get much help from his defense.
Front Royal committed four errors on the night, including two in the first inning that forced the Cardinals to play from behind from the beginning of the game. In the top half of the first, Cody Hudson drilled the first pitch he saw into right field for a single. Teammate Grant Fillipitch followed with a single of his own and suddenly the Generals had two runners on base.
"We have been getting a lot of hits lately," McDaniel said. "We have good team chemistry and no one plays harder than we do. The guys have learned to count on each other and it is showing in the way we played."
The next batter, Andrew Turocy, hit a shot towards first baseman Pete Greskoff, who booted the ball for his team's first error and allowed Hudson to score on the play. After the second Cardinals error loaded the bases, Fillipitch scored on a sacrifice fly to give his team a 2-0 advantage.
"With the talent we have on this team, we can only have so many wakeup calls," Cardinals manager Joe Scarano said. "We have some limitations that we need to get over, and identify our weaknesses and work on them immediately."
Ahead 3-1 entering the top half of the fifth inning, the Generals looked to add to their lead. A Cardinals infield error sandwiched by two Waynesboro singles quickly loaded the bases with no outs. Ford hit batter Terrell Thompson to allow Turocy to walk home from third. Then Jonathan Clinard knocked in two runs on a base hit to right field.
The hit ended Ford's night on the mound, but two more were charged to the starter when two runs scored on a Cody Hudson hit to seemingly put the game out of reach at 9-1.
"Our team has been swinging the bats pretty well lately," McDaniel said. "I am really happy with our game tonight. We played good defense and [Daniel] Bradshaw pitched a hell of a game."
Front Royal, however, did not quit at the plate. Andy Drexell and Matt Holland each hit solo home runs and the Cardinals would add three runs in the bottom of the eighth, but unfortunately it was too late as the damage had already been done.
With the recent skid and a change in personnel, the Cardinals hope to right the ship quickly as they look to stay on the top half of the league as they wind down the season and make a run towards the playoffs.
"We have lost some good arms and good players," Scarano said. "We are a different team now than when we started the season and we have a different identity. I believe we can and will stay above .500 the rest of the season, and if we can get hot at the end we'll be all right."