Strasburg silences visiting Cannons

By Jeff Nations

STRASBURG — Charles Town’s Shane Ammon had a great catch to add to his personal highlight reel on Monday night — for nearly two seconds.

But when the ball squirted loose from Ammon’s glove after his full-on sprint to center field to track down a line shot by Strasburg’s Patrick McGavin, the play went from a great defensive effort to a two-run double that helped the Express build a solid early lead en route to winning 6-3 at First Bank Park.

Cannons manager Bobby Rauh questioned the unusual call, and the answer that he received — that the fielder must make an attempt to take the ball out of the glove after a catch — wasn’t exactly satisfactory.

“He has to see that the fielder attempts to pull the ball out of the glove,” Rauh said. “My only objection was I don’t think he could see whether his hand was in the glove or not from 20 feet away. I didn’t think he had enough evidence to make that call.

“It’s unfortunate. They hit the ball well early in the game, and so did we. A lot of our line drives found gloves instead of the ground. We hit the ball so much better than it looked tonight.”

Strasburg (5-5) hit the ball with authority as well, jumping out to a quick lead after Jordan Tarsovich led off the bottom of the first inning with a double and later scored on Cameron Johnson’s RBI single to left field.

“I’m just seeing the ball and hitting the ball — trust me eyes and trust my hands,” said Tarsovich, who later added a triple as part of a three-hit night.

That lone run held up until the bottom of the fifth, as Strasburg starter Austin Clark shut down the Cannons and Charles Town’s Jacob Johnson did the same to the Express. But in the walks to Josh Zumbrook and Tarsovich cost Johnson when McGavin stroked that shot to center for two runs. Johnson followed with another single to drive in McGavin and put Strasburg up 4-0.

Clark ended up pitching six scoreless innings for the win, allowing only four hits and a walk while striking out two.

“We got a really nice, clean start from him,” Express manager Butch Barnes said. “That’s probably the second one that we’ve gotten this year, that we thought was a good, clean start.”

Express reliever Ben Gullo didn’t fare nearly as well in the top of the seventh, loading the bases with one out before forcing in a run with a walk to Ammon. Evan Kirsch came on after that to strike out Hayden Cronenbold and induce Matt Durst into a groundout back to the mound to escape further trouble.

A late-inning specialist at Millersville University, Kirsch said he hasn’t often inherited quite that much trouble.

“That was different,” Kirsch said. “I enjoyed the situation. I’ve always loved the spotlight. I love the fact that coach had the confidence in me to say, ‘Hey, go out there and do this.'”

Strasburg picked up two more runs in the bottom of the seventh when pinch-hitter Erik Armstrong launched a two-run home run to right off Cannons reliever Steven Burnham.

The bullpen issues continued for the Express in the eighth as the Cannons again loaded the bases with one out against reliever Adam Emerson. Charles Town’s L.K. Thompson drew another bases-loaded walk and Emmanuel Marrero followed with a solid double off reliever David Hafer to plate one more, but the Cannons’ Dillon Cooper couldn’t get home in time to beat the relay from center for a second run.

Charles Town (5-7) threatened again in the ninth with runners on second and third, but Strasburg reliever Daniel Bridgeman struck out Charles Town’s Spence Rahm to end it.

“I thought we got some timely hits with runners in scoring position,” Barnes said. “Last night we left 11 guys on base. That’s not good.”

Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or jnations@nvdaily.com>