By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
WOODSTOCK -- The Haymarket Senators and Woodstock River Bandits both had 7-7 records and were tied for third-place in the North Division, but that was the last similarity between the squads Tuesday night. The River Bandits banged out 15 hits, including three home-runs, to notch a commanding 11-3 win in Valley Baseball League action.
Shortstop Cody Harris (Masters) hit the big bomb during Woodstock's five-run, six-hit, third inning, with a two-out, three-run dinger (third of the season) to straightaway center field.
Harris collected Scott Burkett, who had stroked an RBI-single, and Ethan Williams on his trip around the bases as the River Bandits batted around in the frame.
Second baseman Andrew Williams then launched a solo home run that landed in nearly the identical spot as Harris' homer, just beyond the 338-foot fence.
Harris also smacked a double and scored in the fifth inning, going 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs on the night.
"I was just getting my foot down, throwing my hands, and I've just been kinda confident at the plate recently and swinging at good pitches," Harris said. "We seem to play pretty well at home [7-2], and we've been struggling on the road [1-5] lately, but we've been swinging it at home."
The River Bandits batted around again in the sixth inning, starting with a one-out single by Mike Vinson. Senators starter John Williams was relieved by Dan Cwertniak.
A double by Andrew Williams (junior, Presbyterian, 2-for-4, 2 RBIs, 2 runs), plated Vinson with the sixth run charged to Williams. who entered the game with a 0.00 ERA in 18.1 innings of work.
The River Bandits tore that to shreds, bruising John Williams for six runs (all earned), on nine hits, as he struck out three and walked two.
Woodstock continued to pound Cwertniak in the fifth, on a sac-fly by Tanner Cimo and RBI singles by Cole Marton and Scott Burkett (2-for-5, 2 RBIs, 2 runs).
Woodstock starter Taylor Rakes found success on a much different path than John Williams, throwing first-pitch strikes to 14 of the 21 batters he faced in five innings on the mound.
Rakes scattered seven hits, gave up one run, on John Mullen's two-out first inning homer, and struck out six.
"That's what I try to do," Rakes said. "You've gotta be first-pitch strikes, you gotta be ahead in the count, because you can throw whatever you like after that. There were a couple of first-pitch hits, so you do risk that, if you leave it where you don't want to. If you can hit the corners and get that first-pitch strike, it changes the entire batting around.
"[Coming out after five innings] was definitely a pitch-count [situation] for me. My last start was in the NCAA Regionals, May 20. I had Tommy John surgery a couple of years ago, so I'm bouncing back from that and you just have to listen to the arm. After five, at 80 pitches, that was enough. I'll just have to build my stamina back up."
Reliever Stephen Green faced the minimum six batters, with two strikeouts, and a double play in two innings of relief for Woodstock.
The Senators (7-8) touched up reliever Chris Thorsen for two runs in the eighth, and Jared Bond mopped up with two groundouts, a single and a strikeout in the ninth.
Haymarket's Vincent Redmond went 3-for-4.
Rightfielder Miles Williams (Cal State Northridge) put the icing on the River Bandits' victory cake, with a two-out, two-run homer, that traveled beyond the football bleachers in center field, in the eighth to close out Woodstock's 11-run night.
"It definitely pleases me when anyone can go out there and command their pitches and throw first-pitch strikes -- it just leads to success for anybody," River Bandits manager Phil Betterly said. "As a team, we do a good job of staying focused throughout the game, and being able to tack-on runs after getting a lead, and never giving away an at-bat. I'm proud of our guys [for that]."