By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- Luray third baseman Jonathan Griffin smashed a three-run homer in the top of the first inning and Wranglers starting pitcher Kevin Carlow followed that up with five strong innings on the mound to pummel Woodstock Friday, 8-4, in Valley League baseball action.
"We just didn't show up for the first five innings," River Bandits manager Donn Foltz said. "I'm not taking anything away from Luray, but we just went through the motions out there. You can't expect to do that against a quality team like Luray and have any other result than the one we had tonight."
It didn't take long for the Wranglers to take advantage of a slow start by Woodstock starting pitcher Tyler Sullivan. The West Florida freshman didn't help his cause by allowing the first Luray batter of the game to get to first base on a walk, and the second Wrangler to reach base on Sullivan's throwing error. That set the stage for Griffin's three-run blast over the center-field fence, giving the Wranglers a 3-0 lead before Woodstock had a chance to bat.
"I had a 3-0 count and I looked over to coach [Mike] Bocock, and he gave me the green light," Griffin said. "I knew I was going to get a good pitch. I just wanted to make sure I didn't miss it."
Sullivan took the loss, giving up seven runs on 11 hits through seven innings on the mound. He walked three and struck out two.
Carlow had a brilliant performance on the mound for Luray. The Brown University freshman got the River Bandits out in order over the first two innings and didn't give up a hit until the bottom of the fourth.
"I was just trying to throw strikes," Carlow said. "I've been walking a lot of guys lately, so I wanted to establish a good strike zone early. That seemed to work well. It was real nice to get the win."
Carlow allowed just one hit and no runs through his five innings on the mound. He struck out seven River Bandits and gave up just one walk.
The Wranglers added two runs in both the third and fifth innings, to take what seemed to be a commanding 7-0 lead. Woodstock finally recovered from its early-inning problems to make a game of it in the late innings.
After scoring their first run of the game in the sixth on an RBI single by Chris Cowell, the River Bandits rallied for three more runs in the eighth to narrow Luray's lead to 7-4.
"We were able to get out of here with a win, but you have to give a lot of credit to Woodstock," Bocock said. "Coach Foltz kept his guys focused through the whole game and they made things interesting in the eighth inning. It took some great plays by our defense to get through that."
Woodstock continued its rally in the ninth inning, getting two men on base, but a great defensive play by Wranglers shortstop Derek Vigoa on a two-out ground ball ended the River Bandits' rally.
"I think we're looking OK and we're starting to find ourselves," Bocock said. "The Valley League is won or lost in the games after the Fourth of July, and I think we're ready for that challenge."