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Posted March 28, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Warren County earns win over R-MA

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Randolph Macon Academy first baseman Thomas Abell juggles the ball as Warren County's Heath Almarode hits the bag safely on an infield ball during third inning action Thursday night at Bing Crosby Stadium in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Randolph Macon Academy's Neil Dutton slides safely around Warren County's Tyler Post during Thursday night's game at Bing Crosby Stadium in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Randolph Macon Academy second baseman Chris Bell tosses the ball to shortstop Neil Dutton to force out Warren County's Julian Bussells in fourth inning action Thursday night at Bing Crosby Stadium in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Randolph Macon Academy first baseman Thomas Abell juggles the ball as Warren County's Heath Almarode crossed first base safely on an infield ball during third inning action Thursday night at Bing Crosby Stadium in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County took advantage of a lack of experience behind the plate from Randolph-Macon Academy on Thursday night.

The Wildcats ran the bases well and pulled out a 6-1 non-district victory over the Yellow Jackets.

"We laid some bunts down and ran the bases well, and that helped us out," Warren County coach Vernon Mathews said.

Warren County stole seven bases in the game, and took advantage of a combined eight wild pitches or passed balls during the game.

R-MA starting pitcher Griffin Duy looked really sharp to start the game. The lefty struck out four in the first two innings.

In the bottom of the third inning, the Wildcats seized control of the game. Warren County's Jullian Bussells singled to start the inning and moved to second on a passed ball. A sac bunt by Tyler Post moved Bussells to third, and he later scored on a wild pitch for a 1-0 lead.

Warren County's Jontae Rollins then reached on an error and stole second. A groundout by Eric Baker moved Rollins to third, and a passed ball scored Rollins for a 2-0 lead.

Heath Almarode struck out, but reached first on a dropped third strike. Courtesy runner Chris Larsen stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Austin King then drew a walk, and Cody Tharpe followed with an RBI double for a 4-0 lead.

"We didn't hit the ball like we should have," Mathews said. "[Duy] is a good pitcher. He pitched really well for them. He's a quality pitcher. We just had to put some balls in play."

R-MA coach Robert Locklear said his catchers are still young and learning how to keep the ball in front of them.

"If we could have just kept them to a run or two in that inning, it would have been big for us," Locklear said. "If we could have kept it closer, we might have been able to get another run or two somewhere and pulled it out.

"We have a freshman and a sophomore catching. We keep telling them if they can just keep the ball in front of them, our pitchers, and we have three leftys, can keep the ball close."

Warren County's Joey Catalani did his part for the Wildcats. Catalani pitched 5 1/3 innings to pick up the victory. He struck out 10, allowing only four hits.

"Joey gave us a quality start," Mathews said. "He kept the balls down, and got ahead in the count."

Catalani said once he got the four-run lead, he felt even better out on the mound.

"It gave me a big boost," he said. "It gave me a lot more confidence going back out there."

Warren County's John Reith came in and finished off the game. Reith struck out three in 1 2/3 innings to keep the Wildcats in front.

R-MA (0-3) was led by Neil Dutton with two hits, while Thomas Abell had an RBI double.

"I feel good about this," Locklear said. "The two teams we've played were really good teams. This will help us for the rest of the season."

It was the first game for the Wildcats (3-2) since being swept by Central in a doubleheader on Saturday.

Catalani said he feels good about his team this season.

"We have a lot of potential," Catalani said. "We're really close. I feel like we're all coming together like one."

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com


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