Cardinals’ bats continue to sputter

By Brad Fauber

FRONT ROYAL — Jake Weghorst can’t explain it, but signs of life from Front Royal’s offense have been scarce for the Cardinals this season.

The first-year Valley Baseball League coach has only been able to watch and try to correct what has been a very inconsistent showing with the Cardinals’ bats, but so far Weghorst’s teachings have seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to Staunton was just the latest letdown for the Cardinals’ offense, as Front Royal had no answer for Staunton starting pitcher Aaron Weisberg, who went seven shutout innings and didn’t allow a Cardinals baserunner to reach third base.

“Their pitcher threw a good game. He was throwing strikes, getting ahead of our guys. We had a lot of bad at-bats,” Weghorst said. “I’m going to start counting the number of balls we watch go right down the middle. We’re just putting ourselves in defensive counts and we’re not a good two-strike hitting team. We’ve proven that. We don’t walk a lot, so why not swing early? Swing as hard as we can and see if we can hit it hard somewhere.

“I wish I had the answer. I don’t know what to tell them after the game because it’s been the same stuff over and over and over. I’m just waiting for somebody to hit it up there off the wall and clear the bases — it just hasn’t happened.”

Weisberg, a 6-foot-7, 250-pound right-hander from George Washington University, was virtually untouchable on the mound for the Braves on Tuesday. Weisberg scattered three hits and two walks while striking out five.

Weisberg improved to 5-0 on the season with the win.

“My change-up really was working. It just seemed like 1-0, 2-0 counts they were swinging at it. My fastball location was alright, but I was doing enough to get by,” Weisberg said. “It was a good overall outing.

“My last two outings were iffy because of walks and everything, but I was able to rebound well. It was a good win.”

Weisberg and Front Royal starting pitcher Jordan DeLorenzo matched each other frame-for-frame in the pitchers’ duel, as both starters held the other side scoreless through the first three innings.

Staunton (16-12) finally broke through with a run in the top in the fourth inning with some clutch two-out hitting.

Braves left fielder Kurt Wertz Jr. ripped a one-out double off the wall in right-center that was nearly caught by Cardinals right fielder Brent Morris, and Jake Fryman followed one out later with an infield single on a soft line drive in the hole between short and third base. Quinn Bower (2-for-4, double) followed with an RBI single on a chopper through the left side of the infield to give Staunton a 1-0 lead.

That was all the offense that Weisman would need, as he cruised through the next four innings while stranding just one runner in scoring position.

“[Weisman] had a very efficient outing. He got on top early … when you pitch ahead and they have to hit your pitch, you’re going to have a lot of success,” Braves manager George Laase said. “And we got the timely hit when we needed it.”

Staunton was able to add another run in the top of the seventh inning when Bower led off the inning with a double down the left-field line, and eventually came around to score on an RBI single to center by Phil Lipari.

DeLorenzo was the hard-luck loser despite a terrific pitching performance in which he allowed just two earned runs on five hits and a walk. He also struck out eight in his 6 1/3 innings of work.

Wes Cox and Bernie Mayflower combined to pitch the final 2 2/3 innings of relief for Front Royal (13-17).

“Jordan did what he’s done all year, he gave us a chance to win,” Weghorst said. “We had him working fast because our innings were going so quick. He just kept going back out there and he did a great job.

“The pitching has been great all year long. Our guys are giving us a chance to win, but it’s tough.”

Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com