By Tommy Keeler Jr. - firstname.lastname@example.org
BERRYVILLE -- Clarke County sophomore Jarrett Sowder was making only the third varsity start of his career, but he looked like a veteran on the mound against Strasburg.
The hurler allowed only four hits in five-plus innings of work to lead the Eagles to an 8-1 Bull Run District win over the Rams on Friday night.
"I know he was really nervous before the game," Clarke County coach Jon Novick said. "He did a good job. This was a really good outing for him."
Sowder struck out five and walked three in picking up his second victory of the year.
"I just tried to attack the zone," Sowder said.
The Eagles gave Sowder plenty of run support. Clarke County's Evan Snapp led off the bottom of the first with a single off of Strasburg's Aaron Doman. Sowder then hit into a fielder's choice, and Ethan Emmart followed with a single. One out later, Daniel Bailey's RBI single gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the third, the Eagles added another run. Keith Hummer was hit by a pitch with two outs. Bailey then had an RBI double to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.
Clarke County (5-6, 3-2 Bull Run) finished the game with 11 hits.
"That's the most hits we've had all year," Novick said. "Usually we have to generate runs by playing small ball."
In the bottom of the fourth, the Eagles extended their lead. Patrick McGrath led off with a single. On the next pitch, Clarke County's Casey Lake attempted a bunt that hit him in the face, and he was replaced by Jacob Rion. After McGrath moved to second on a wild pitch, Rion struck out, but Strasburg catcher Ryan Smoot couldn't handle the pitch allowing Rion to advance to first. One out later, Sowder perfectly executed a squeeze bunt, scoring McGrath. Sowder was later caught stealing second, but Rion was able to score on the play to give the Eagles a 4-0 lead.
The Rams finally got on the board in the top of the fifth. Tyler Doman led off with a bloop single. One out later, Todd Dean followed with a double. Tyler Hott's groundout RBI cut the lead to 4-1.
Strasburg had the leadoff man on in four of the first five innings, but had trouble getting the timely hits they needed. Sowder said he just tried to focus harder whenever he was in a little trouble.
"I just took a step back and tried to take a minute to get back in my rhythm," he said.
Sowder started the sixth inning, but after walking Collin Cook, Novick replaced Sowder with David Betz. Novick said Sowder was expected to be the team's No. 3 starter at the beginning of the season, but an injury to Drew Paice forced him into the No. 2 spot, which he has handled very well.
Emmart added an RBI single and Hummer a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth for the Eagles. Emmart went 3-for-4 for the Eagles, while Bailey had two hits and two RBIs.
The Rams (5-5, 3-2 Bull Run) weren't able to get any hits off of Betz over the final two innings. Dean led the Rams with two hits, while Ryan Smoot drew three walks, and Cook had a single and drew two walks.
"They were just a lot better than we were in every phase of the game," Strasburg coach Jeff Smoot said. "They hit better. They pitched better. And they certainly played more inspired baseball than we did."