By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW MARKET -- Host New Market came out on top in wild 9-8 extra-inning victory over Luray on Monday evening at Rebel Park.
The Rebels jumped on Luray starter Brandon Mack early, tagging the Chowan junior for five runs over the first two innings before watching the Wranglers slowly chip into the deficit and eventually take the lead late in the game.
New Market battled back to tie the game on two occasions -- in the eighth and ninth innings -- before finally sealing the victory on Garrett Boulware's RBI single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th.
"My guys have been [tough] from the very outset of the season -- we started out 0-8 -- and they've battled and scratched and fought every step of the way," said Rebels manager John Combs. "I've got a tough group of kids."
Luray, hoping to save what little pitching depth it has left for its upcoming stretch of games, started Mack on the mound for the first time this season on Monday.
The Rebels wasted no time giving Mack a less-than-warm welcome to the starting role as New Market leadoff hitter Mac Hudgins started the bottom of the first with a double down the first-base line. Hudgins scored on a sacrifice fly by Matt Dickason (2 for 4, three RBIs) to give the Rebels a quick 1-0 lead.
New Market brought more of the same in the second as it erupted for four more runs on five hits, including an RBI triple by Dickason that made the score 5-0.
But Mack then settled into a groove and held the Rebels scoreless over the next five innings, allowing the Wranglers to slowly claw back into the game.
The Wranglers got on the board in the third inning after back-to-back RBI doubles by Michael Broad and Orlando Olivera (3 for 4, home run, three RBIs) cut the lead to three.
Luray (16-20) scored a run in both the fourth and fifth innings to pull within one, and finally took its first lead of the game when Broad scored on a wild pitch by Josh Cesario to give the Wranglers a 6-5 lead.
"They have a lot of heart, they never stop," said Wranglers manager Brett Fuller of his team. "They keep fighting -- that's what we've done all year. We can hit with just about anybody."
Luray added another run in the top of the eighth to take a 7-5 lead, but New Market answered in the bottom half of the inning with a leadoff home run by Justin Lacy. The Rebels added another run in the inning on a wild pitch to knot the score at 7-all.
Broad, who came on in relief of Mack for the Wranglers in the eighth, homered in the top of the ninth to reclaim the lead for Luray, but the Rebels (18-15) came right back with a run in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings with the score tied at 8-all.
Luray's lack of pitching depth finally caught up with the Wranglers as Brian Balagurchick hit three consecutive batters to open the bottom of the 11th inning before serving up the game-winning single by Boulware.
Alex Boshers, who pitched the top of the 11th for New Market, picked up the victory.
"Baseball's a funny game," Combs said. "There were a lot of guys that stepped up for us tonight and played key parts in crucial moments. I don't have just one star -- I have a bunch of stars."