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River Bandits closing in on playoff chase

By Jerry Holsworth - sports@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- With the Valley League season winding down, Woodstock entered its game Thursday with Rockbridge just two games out of a berth in the playoffs.

The River Bandits responded by demolishing the Rapids, 7-0, setting up a critical showdown tonight at Staunton with eighth place -- the cutoff to make the VBL playoffs -- on the line. The Braves, who had a two-game lead on Woodstock heading into tonight's game, lost 6-2 to Covington.

"That's really the objective from this point on for our team," Woodstock manager Donn Foltz said. "Tonight was a big game for us heading into the final stretch. Right now, we're going to take it just one game at a time and see what happens."

The key to the River Bandits' success was the pitching of starter Vincent Vorio. The University of Pennsylvania sophomore dominated Rockbridge, striking out 11 batters and holding the Rapids to just four hits and no runs through six innings on the mound.

"I really felt good tonight," Vorio said. "I felt comfortable throwing all of my pitches. It was good to be able to keep them from scoring when they got runners in critical and threatening situations."

Twice Voiro was threatened with base runners in scoring position, once in the fourth and again in the sixth inning. He responded in both instances by fanning the side in each inning without allowing a run.

"We're in a very critical position right now, with the playoffs just before us," Voiro said. "But I'm really excited about all this. I think we have a very good team and I think we're really coming together right now."

Losing pitcher Chris Greiner had a respectable night. The Hartford junior gave up two runs on five hits, struck out two and walked three. Greiner, however, didn't get much help from the Rapids' defense, which committed four errors behind him during his five innings on the mound.

"They did a good job of getting runs across the plate when they had a chance," Rockbridge manager Greg Keaton said. "We don't play well, we don't hit well, we don't pitch well, and we don't play defense well. That's not a very good combination. I sure hope we can turn this around, but I have my doubts."

Woodstock took advantage of those Rockbridge fielding miscues to score a run in the first, another in the fourth and three more in the seventh. In all, Rockbridge had seven fielding errors. On the other hand, the River Bandits committed just two errors through nine innings.

Erick Fernandez was the big offensive weapon for Woodstock. The Georgetown rising senior went 3-for-3 at the plate, including a two-run blast over the right-center field fence in the sixth inning.


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