By Robert Edmonds - firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG--Strasburg opened its 2013 baseball campaign Friday night when it hosted county rival Stonewall Jackson. The Generals entered the matchup with a win already under their belt and were hoping to start a winning streak.
"They came into tonight having already played and getting a chance to get the jitters out and getting a big win in doing so," said Rams coach Jeff Smoot. "We knew that we were going to have our hands full and we needed to get off to a good start tonight."
By nights' end, however it appeared that Strasburg was the team that had already had the opportunity to shake the offseason rust winning convincingly 14-3 in five innings.
The home team got some help from Generals starter, Colton Harlow in the first inning to take a commanding lead. Harlow walked the first two Rams batters that he faced and then after fielding a bunt by Tyler Hott, misfired on his throw to first base allowing two runs to score.
Harlow walked another Rams batter and then committed his second error of the inning again after fielding a bunt. With a three run lead, Ian Baker and Ryan Murphy both delivered sacrifice bunts to extend Strasburg's lead to 5-1 before the first inning came to a close.
"It was important for us to start the game well and we were able to put up a few runs in the first," Smoot said. "Anytime your pitcher can take the mound with a good lead, they relax a little not that Hott needs a lot of relaxing because he is somewhat seasoned but it definitely helps."
Hott took the mound in the second inning with a four-run lead and the confidence was portrayed in his pitching efforts. Hott recorded the side in order putting his team back on the offensive quickly.
It appeared that after the rough first inning, Harlow was beginning to settle in as he struck out the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the second. Things changed quickly after Harlow put a runner on base with his fourth walk of the evening. Hott and Tyler Doman connected on back to back RBI doubles to extend the Rams lead to 7-1 before Harlow ended the inning and his night by striking out Ian Baker to close out the second.
The Generals had bases loaded opportunities in the third and the fourth innings, but were unable to generate much of an attack to close the gap. In the third after scoring two runs, Hott was able to strikeout Patrick Kerlin to end the inning and leave three baserunners stranded, but found himself in the same situation in the fourth before being forced to leave the game.
With a blister on his pitching hand, Hott was removed and Doman took the mound in a sticky situation. With the bases loaded, Doman stepped in against Jared Getz and delivered with a strikeout to end inning and the threat to stall the Generals efforts.
"I think that Tyler [Doman] was big for us on the mound tonight," Smoot said. "He came in a critical spot and had a big strikeout when they had a chance to get some things going and close in on us."
A stymied Stonewall Jackson team gave up six runs in the bottom of the fourth with Strasburg cycling through their entire batting order and taking a 14-3 lead by the end of the inning.
Mark Smoot came on in relief for Strasburg in the fifth inning and ended the game by striking out two of the three batters he faced giving his team a win in their first outing of the season and complete the first building block of a long season ahead.
"We are happy with the win tonight, but it's still early on in the season and we have a lot of games to be played yet," Smoot said.