By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
WOODSTOCK -- Carrying a three-game losing streak, the Woodstock River Bandits hosted the only team they had not lost to this season, the Waynesboro Generals, in a Wednesday night Valley League matchup.
It was a closely fought contest, with the teams battling to a 4-4 tie at the end of the seventh inning.
But, in yet another game that got away from Woodstock in the late innings, Waynesboro scored the game-winning run in the eighth frame on first baseman TJ Kuban's third hit (3-for-4, two RBIs, run), with two out to score Zephan Guyear and swipe a 5-4 win.
"Woodstock's tough, they beat us twice, so they kept mixing up pitchers on us and I was just trying to see the ball and hit it, just like we've been taught," Kuban said.
The Generals got off to a quick start as lead-off batter and right fielder Colin Harrington singled to center, but was later out attempting to steal second.
Number two batter Jonathan Clinard hit a one-out soft fly to left-center that he legged into a double.
Clinard stole third, then scored on Grant Fillipitch's ground out, for a 1-0 lead.
The River Bandits answered with three tallies in the bottom of the first inning, which started with a lead-off walk by Karl Johnston, followed by Buddy Sosnoskie's perfect bunt between the mound and first base for a base hit, moving Johnston to second.
Michael Garza's sacrifice fly to center moved Johnston to third and first baseman Bill Barber laced a one-ball pitch down the left-field line for a double, scoring Johnston and Sosnoskie.
With two outs, newly arrived catcher Erich Fernandez (Georgetown) hit his first Valley League pitch for single to right, plating Barber to give Woodstock a 3-1 lead.
Waynesboro responded immediately, tacking on two runs in the second frame.
Guyear hit a fly ball to center that landed in front of center fielder Sosnoskie and took a high bounce over his head for a double, and Kuban brought him home with a single to left that sneaked through the infield, and Kuban took second on the throw-in from the outfield.
Harrington then hit a high bouncer over third base to knock in Kuban and tie the score at 3-3.
In the bottom of the fifth, with two outs, River Bandit third baseman Michael Garza stroked his first homer of the year, a no-doubt blast to center field to give Woodstock a 4-3 lead.
With maximum offensive efficiency, Woodstock had scored four runs on four hits.
Following the pattern of the game, Waynesboro again tied the score at their next opportunity, displaying some offensive efficiency of their own with left fielder Cody Hudson hitting a two-out triple down the right-field line, followed by Guyear's RBI single to center to knot the score at 4-4.
In the decisive eighth inning, Waynesboro lead-off batter Hudson reached second on a two-base error by first baseman Billy Barber, but there was no harm as he was eventually thrown out at the plate.
Guyear (2-for-2, double, two walks, two runs, RBI) drew his second walk, stole second and advanced to third when Alan Stoupa hit into a fielder's choice.
Kuban then knocked a blooper down the left-field line, plating Guyear with the winning run.
Waynesboro reliever Justin Thompson worked two innings and grabbed the win (1-0).
Woodstock's first reliever, Josh White, was charged with the Generals' fifth run and took the loss (0-1).
No River Bandit hitter got more than one hit as the team tallied eight, while Waynesboro lashed out 10 hits.
Each team turned in a double play and Woodstock shortstop Derek Vigao executed three fielding gems. One was a diving catch with his back to the ball, in shallow center field, to rob Terrell Thompson of a hit.
Woodstock (10-16) now has a four-game losing streak, while Waynesboro (13-12) climbed above .500.
"We got some two-out hits tonight, which we hadn't been doing, and we left the bases loaded again [in the seventh]," Generals manager Derek McDaniel said. "My starter [Brian Adkins] did a good job hanging in there. After giving up three in the first, he pitched five more good innings."
"The kids played a good game, just one little quirk down the left-field line and a couple of bad hops," River Bandits manager Donn Foltz said. "Vigoa plays like that every night. With him, you always have a chance. If he can't get to it, it's a valid hit.
"We hope our luck will change because right now we don't have Lady Luck with us."
The league announced the selections for the All-Star game today. Four River Bandits were chosen for the North team: third baseman Michael Garza, first baseman/outfielder Billy Barber, and pitchers Vincent Voiro and Ben Paulus. The All-Star game will be played at Veterans Memorial Park in Harrisonburg on Sunday. Pre-game contests will start at 5:30 p.m. and game time is 7:30 p.m.