By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW MARKET -- New Market finally got in the win column, but the Rebels had to rally to do it.
New Market rallied from a three-run deficit and then scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 Valley League victory over Rockbridge on Thursday.
New Market's Matt Ford hit a walk-off single off Rockbridge reliever Kevin McCulloh, to plate Kevin De Fillippis. Ford, (2-for-5, 2 RBIs), also knocked in the Rebels' second run with a double in the seventh inning.
"I was just looking pretty much for a fastball," Ford said. "Something I could drive, hopefully into the gap, but all we needed was a base-hit and a runner scoring. Thank goodness I got [a fastball], because I swung through the first two [pitches] and he gave me a fastball I could do something with, and I put it in the outfield.
"It definitely feels good to get that first win. We've struggled here early, but the season's still young. So, hopefully we'll get the ball rolling a little bit after this one."
Rockbridge (6-4) got on the board in first inning when rightfielder Brandon Thigpen blasted a one-out 3-2 pitch far over the center-field fence for his first round-tripper of the season against New Market starter Jack Sterritt. Sterritt then walked Garrett Furr on four pitches, but escaped further damage.
The Rebels squandered a golden opportunity in the second as Jared Sustar doubles with one out. Rapids' starter Jeremy Jansen then hit Zach Fitzpatrick with a pitch, but the potential rally died when DeFillippis hit a come-backer to Jansen, who used it to start a 1-6-3 double play.
In the fourth inning the Rebels turned a key double play to work out of a bases-loaded jam.
Joey Tracy led off by being hit by a pitch. Connor Lewis then smacked a single to right, and Greer reached first on a bunt when Sterritt's toss to the bag was dropped by DeFillipis covering, to load the bases.
But Sterritt induced a ground ball by Kevin White that became a 5-2-3 double play to end the inning without damage.
Furr had a one-out single to center in the fifth and stole second. Chase Corn then grounded to first baseman TJ Kuban, who threw wildly past Sterritt covering, and the ball traveled all the way to the back-stop, enabling Furr to score the Rapids' second run.
Jansen worked five innings. He gave up two runs on five hits and struck out three.
Rockbridge picked up its third run in the seventh off of Josh Harris as Eric Renegar hit a lead-off single, stole second, and moved to third on Thigpen's sac bunt.
After Furr struck out and Corn drew a walk, designated hitter Cody Dolan singled to left, plating Renegar for the Rapids' third run.
Jansen showed he still had plenty left in the sixth frame, by striking out the side after walking Jeff Heisey to maintain his four-hit shutout, but he ran into trouble in the seventh as the Rebels got on the board with two runs.
Sustar led off with a bloop single, and Zach Fitzpatrick was hit by a pitch.
The runners advanced to second and third on a groundout by DeFilippis, setting up Sustar crossing the plate on Mac Hudgins' groundout for the Rebels first run.
Ford turned it up a notch with a double to left, plating Fitzpatrick to cut the lead to 3-2. McCulloh relieved Jansen and struck out Heisey to end the rally.
The Rebels tied the game in the eighth with a lead-off single by Justin Lacy, who advanced to second on a passed ball, and to third on Kuban's groundout.
Pat Porter's groundout was good for an RBI as Lacy crossed the plate to knot the score at 3-3.
In the ninth, Rebels' reliever Cameron Ward got Thigpen to ground out and reliever Neight Hoffa came on and got Furr and Corn on strikeouts.
Hoffa (sophomore, George Mason) worked a short time, but effectively and with just right timing to pick up the win.
"Yeah, the 'W' feels great," Hoffa said. "As I was warming up in the pen in the seventh, my arm wasn't catching up. And everything was going high in the zone, although I was trying to keep it low.
"[In the game] my fastball kept going up, so I tried to work with my off-speed pitches. I got the first strikeout with my splitter, and the next guy I was able to beat with my fastball. If you're not working with one thing, you have to try another. My arm felt really alive and my off-speed stuff came through for me."
In the bottom of the ninth, DeFiippis reached on an error by third baseman Furr with one out, and moved to second on Hudgins' groundout.
Hudgins' single advanced DeFillipis to third, setting up Ford's walk-off single.
"This was a team effort," Hoffa said. "The whole team helped out. [Sterritt] threw a good game. The bullpen came through."