By Brad Fauber
WOODSTOCK -- The consistent starting pitching that has helped Woodstock build a commanding lead in the Valley Baseball League North division was nowhere to be found when the River Bandits hosted Waynesboro on Tuesday night.
The visiting Generals roughed up Woodstock starting pitcher Kyle Kennett for nine runs on nine hits in Kennett's three-plus innings of work, and the early offense proved plenty as Waynesboro rolled to a 12-3 victory.
"It was just one of those nights. Kyle competed, made some pitches, it just didn't go his way tonight," River Bandits manager Phil Betterly said. "I thought he competed well and gave us a great effort. It just didn't happen for him tonight.
"Our guys battled the whole time, and they've been doing that all year. It was just one of those days, and we'll come out tomorrow and we'll be all right."
Waynesboro's offense got hot from the start, as Generals leadoff man JoJo Woods ripped a line drive over the fence in center field on Kennett's second pitch of the evening to give the Generals a quick lead.
Kennett answered by getting Tyler Bocock to ground out for the game's first out, but then the next five Waynesboro batters reached base, beginning with a walk to Patrick Mazeika. A pair of singles by Terrance Dedrick and Jeff Conley loaded the bases, and designated hitter Sikes Orvis delivered a two-run single to center to give Waynesboro a 3-0 lead.
Thomas Stallings followed with an RBI single of his own down the third-base line, and an RBI groundout by catcher Ben Boykin gave Waynesboro a 5-0 lead after the first half-inning of play.
"We came out swinging the bat tonight. We've struggled a little bit lately, and we just came out and had a little fun and played hard, put some hits together," Generals manager Mike Bocock said.
Waynesboro (10-14) added another run in the top of the second on an RBI single by Mazeika, who went 3-for-3 in the ballgame and was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle.
Kennett managed to fend off a two-out rally by the Generals in the third inning before finding trouble again in the top of the fourth.
Kennett began the inning by hitting Tyler Bocock, and Kennett surrendered a double to Mazeika and walked Dedrick to load the bases with nobody out.
Betterly was forced to then turn to his bullpen, choosing to bring in lefty Cody Tollison in an attempt to limit the damage. But Tollison's second pitch to Conley was yanked down the first-base line and into the Waynesboro bullpen in the right-field corner. The hit cleared the bases, and Conley came all the way around to score on a play that was technically an inside the park grand slam.
Betterly said any ball that goes into the bullpen is to be ruled a ground-rule double, but Woodstock right fielder Kyri Washington picked up the ball too soon after throwing both arms in the air to signal to the umpire that the ball was out of play.
"The moment the ball enters in [the bullpen] you have to hold your hands up and you have to wait for the umpire to go out," Betterly said. "The moment [Washington] touched the ball again it was a live ball."
The wacky home run gave Waynesboro a 10-0 lead, which was plenty of support for Generals starting pitcher Corey Armentrout, who's six-inning, three-hit performance was overshadowed by Waynesboro's 17-hit performance.
Armentrout struck out seven batters over his six innings, and he allowed just one unearned run, which came in the fifth on an RBI single by Woodstock left fielder Drew Cole.
"[Armentrout] did what any successful pitcher does. He gets ahead with his fastball and then works from there," Betterly said. "I thought he had good stuff tonight, and I'll tip my cap to him."
Woodstock (17-6) scraped out two more runs in the bottom of the seventh off Generals reliever Josh Thorne, the first run coming on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch, and the second on a Waynesboro fielding error with two outs.
Tollison allowed three earned runs in his 2 2/3 innings of relief for the River Bandits before giving way to Austin Hale, who went the final 3 1/3 innings. Hale allowed just two hits and struck out six.
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org