By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- New Market Rebels starting pitcher Chad Kuhl threw perfect baseball for the first 5 1/3 innings and went on to pitch eight innings as the Rebels beat the Woodstock River Bandits, 5-1, in a Valley Baseball League action Thursday night.
During his perfect stint, Kuhl got first-pitch strikes on 12 of the 16 batters he faced and struck out seven.
With one out in the sixth, River Bandits first baseman Justin Weaver -- hitting .200 and batting in the eight-hole -- hit a first-pitch two-hopper just beyond the reach of lunging second baseman Matt Dickason's outstretched glove to become Woodstock's first base runner.
Kuhl then issued the first of his two walks on the night to Jordan Chovanec, advancing Weaver to second.
One out later, Tanner Cimo hit a flair behind second base, just beyond the reach of shortstop Matt Ford. Weaver took too wide a turn past third base, and was out on throw from Ford to third baseman Kevin DeFilippis.
Woodstock (14-16) got its only run of the game in the seventh, when Michael Vinson timed a one-out, one-strike breaking ball from Kuhl and sent it well over the 372-foot sign in straightaway right field for his fourth round-tripper of the season to tighten the score to 2-1. It was only the fifth earned run in 34 innings of work by Kuhl.
Kuhl then gave up an infield single to Cody Harris and a single to right by Miles Williams, but they were stranded on pop-outs by Scott Burkett and Weaver.
Kuhl, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound Delaware right-hander and South Division All-Star selection, completed his outing by pitching a scoreless eighth. He finished with nine strikeouts and allowed five hits, a pair of walks and hit a batter. Kuhl improved his record to 3-0 and lowered his opponents' batting average from .170.
"It was the deepest I've gone in a Valley League game," Kuhl said. "I'm on an innings limit this season, so I have only one more start left."
New Market (14-13) got on the board early as Mac Hudgins led off the game with single to right, and scampered to third when River Bandits starter Mike Volpe overthrew first base on a pick-off attempt and the ball traveled far into right field foul territory. Hudgins then scored on a Matt Ford ground out.
Volpe then settled down to toss four shutout innings, with the only Rebels base runners coming on a walk to Dickason, followed by a laser-shot double to the fence in right-center by Justin Lacy in the third inning, and Andrew Burgess reaching on an error in the fourth.
T.J. Kuban broke Volpe's scoreless string in the sixth with a one-out homer to right field, his fifth of the year, that landed in nearly the same spot as Vinson's would an inning later, to give the Rebels a 2-0 lead.
Chris Thorsen relieved Volpe to start the seventh and retired the Rebels in order.
Volpe worked six innings, gave up two earned runs on seven hits, four strikeouts, one walk, and a hit batsman as his record dropped to 4-2 with the loss.
The Rebels broke open the tight game by scoring three runs in the eighth, all charged to Thorsen.
Lacy led off with a double off the glove of right fielder Miles Williams, who tried to snag it at the fence. Two outs later, DeFilippis doubled Lacy across the plate.
DeFilippis (2-for-5) scored when third baseman Cimo threw high to first base on a ground ball by Burgess, causing Weaver to leap off the bag.
Tyler Slaton then drew a walk and Jared Bond relieved Thorsen, only to be greeted with a single by Hudgins (2-for-5), plating Burgess with the Rebels' fifth run.
Lacy, a senior at Longwood and a South Division All-Star pick, went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a run to improve his batting average to .378 and his slugging percentage to .689.
"I am seeing the ball really well," Lacy said. "I wanted to succeed in the Valley League and I'm just trying my best to see what happens. I'm seeing all types of pitches right out the pitchers' hands."
Harris, a North Division All-Star pick, went 2-for-4 for the only multiple-hit performance among Woodstock's six hits.
"[With] good pitching and timely hitting, you're gonna win a lot of ballgames," Rebels manager John Combs said. "It's a grind when you get into July, but [Lacy] is a hard worker and that usually helps out a lot. When you're going well, you see every pitch well."