By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
STRASBURG -- Strasburg Express starting pitcher Jeff Maxwell had a very good seven innings of work, limiting the New Market Rebels to two runs on five hits for seven innings. However, Rebels' starter Chad Kuhl had an even better outing, tossing a two-hit shutout over his seven innings on the mound, helping the Rebels to a 5-0 win in Valley Baseball League action Tuesday evening at First Bank Park.
Maxwell threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of the 28 batters he faced, and retired the first seven Rebels in order, until he issued a one-out walk to Andrew Burgess in the third inning.
New Market took advantage of the opportunity as Kevin DeFelippis singled to left, advancing Burgess to second. Mac Hudgins laced a first-pitch liner to the left-field corner, driving in Burgess with the first run of the game, and moving DeFelippis to third.
DeFelippis crossed the plate on Matt Ford's groundout, to give the Rebels a 2-0 lead.
Maxwell then pitched four shutout innings, yielding only three inconsequential singles.
DeFilippis (2-for-3) knocked a lead-off a single to left in the eighth, but was then picked off base.
Lefty Matt Verdillo came in to relieve Maxwell and the New Market batters welcomed him with a double by Matt Ford (2-for-4), to the right-field corner, followed a TJ Kuban single, plating Ford.
Left-handed batter Justin Lacy, a Longwood senior, stepped into the batters box and bashed a 3-1 pitch well over the right-field wall for a two-run homer. His fourth homer of the season gave the Rebels a 5-0 lead. Lacy went 2-for-4, with two RBIs, and a run scored, and improved his batting average to .364.
"I've been seeing the ball well and making very good contact," Lacy said. "I actually played against Verdillo in high school [Glen Allen]. I just try to see the ball early and lay the bat on it."
Maxwell with seven and two-thirds innings of work, was touched for the two earned runs, struck out five, and walked one in his no-decision effort.
"The bottom line there, is [Maxwell] got to his pitch count, and we had to take him out," Express manager Butch Barnes said.
Kuhl (2-0), who attends Delaware, shut down Strasburg by facing only 25 batters, four over the minimum, struck out seven, walked three, and had one wild pitch to earn the win.
"I didn't have the groove in my bullpen work, and the mound felt different in-game, so I had to make a few little adjustments," Kuhl said. "I issued a couple of walks early [first two innings]. I was missing outside, but I settled in once I got all my pitches working and that was key. My slider was my out pitch.
"We're a good club. We can pitch it. We can hit it. We can do it all, so I think we'll get another win streak going."
Neight Hoffman relieved Kuhl to begin the eighth, and the Express also liked that pitching change, as Bryan Welling laced a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch, followed by an Erik Armstrong single, advancing Welling to third.
But the Express couldn't cash in as Hoffman struck out Josh Gardiner and Zach Wiley, sandwiched around a a Billy Matroni pop-out.
Andrew Barbarino relieved Hoffman in the ninth and Strasburg's bats came alive with two outs, when Boyd Jackson hit a solid liner to center for a singe. Designated hitter Terry McCinton smashed a double into the left-center gap, but Jackson held up at third.
Welling struck out to end the game, bringing Strasburg's left-on-base total to eight.
Verdillo (2-3) was charged with the loss.
It was Strasburg's (7-15) fourth loss in a row, keeping them at the bottom of the North Division, halfway through the 44-game Valley League season. New Market (10-11) won its second in a row and is in fourth place in the South Division.
"We hit it hard," Barnes said. "In the [fifth inning] we had three line-outs to center field. When you're in a little bit of a funk, things happen that way. We've gotta keep battling to get out of it, that's all.
"We battled. I don't have any regrets about anything we did. We hit the ball hard, right at people, at times."