by Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW MARKET -- The homestanding New Market Shockers not only broke a five-game losing streak, but also helped manager Smokey Veney celebrate his 58th birthday with a 5-3 win over the Montezuma Braves in Rockingham County Baseball League action Tuesday night at Rebel Park.
Three of those losses in the skid were by a total margin of four runs, but Montezuma eased the Shockers' path to victory by committing six errors, making all of New Markets' runs unearned.
The Shockers made a single error and turned two double plays on the evening.
"It's a real good feeling," Veney said. "The guys have played well in the last week. The pitching's been great, we just haven't hit the ball that well for them.
"Tonight, we got a couple of hits and a couple of breaks, and that's what it takes."
Although New Market (6-15) got its lead-off batter on base in each of the first four innings, the offense sputtered as none of them got past second base.
Braves starting pitcher Brady Cockerham shut out the Shockers through the first five frames, yielding four singles while striking out three and issuing one walk.
New Market starter Matt Griffin nearly matched Cockerham through six innings, giving up one run in the third as Ryan Hendrick, Ryan Brunk and Aaron Swope rapped consecutive singles (two of the infield variety) to open the third, and Jono Brooks plated Hedrick with the first run of the contest.
The Shockers finally found the candles for Manager Veney's birthday cake with a break-out sixth inning, as New Market sent 10 batters to the plate and swatted five hits while the Braves made four errors.
Josh Veney, Josh Dick, Zach Stiles and Korey Foltz comprised a hit parade as each got a base hit, three of them not getting out of the infield.
Stiles beat out a slow roller to pitcher Cockerham, who overthrew first base, allowing Stiles to advance to second.
Josh Dick scored on a throwing error by shortstop Brooks, who made a throwing error.
Right fielder Johnny Mason made a throwing error after catching Tyler Dick's fly out.
Chandis Goff then relieved Cockerham and got Kevin Rush to fly out. But the Shockers weren't ready to return to the dugout.
Cameron Smith drew a walk, then Adam Foltz worked Goff for seven pitches before grounding to second baseman Kyle Anderson, who booted it for yet another error, allowing Korey Foltz to score before Tim Spore actually got a conventional RBI on a single to right to plate Cameron Smith, who reached on a walk, with the Shockers' fifth run of the frame.
Veney flew out in his second at bat in the inning for the third out.
The Braves still had some fight left, as Griffin hit Hedrick with a pitch with one out in the seventh, and Brunk and Swope promptly followed with singles. Swope knocked in Hedrick with the second run for Montezuma (7-15).
Josh Dick then relieved Griffin and got Brooks to pop out, and struck out Nolan Shaffer.
Brian Croushorn greeted Josh Dick in the eighth with the only extra-base hit of the game, a triple to right-center that rolled to the outfield fence.
Croushorn scored on Armstrong's groundout to first base.
Josh Dick retired five of the next six Braves, issuing a walk to Brunk in the ninth, to earn the save.
Griffin worked 6 1/3 innings, gave up two earned runs on six hits, four strikeouts, two walks and a hit batsman, to improve to 1-1.
"I started to get a little tired, had to get back into it a little bit," Griffin said. "It's been two years since I pitched in college [Shenandoah U.] This is my third game in the Rockingham County league in three weeks. It takes a while to get back into a routine.
"[Catcher Tyler Dick] and I've been on the same page for the two or three games, and it makes it easy on me, when he calls what I'm thinking -- plus with the defense behind you, it gives you all the confidence in the world."
Cockerham took the loss.
Stiles (2-for-4) and Rush (2-for-4) contributed multiple-hit performances for the Shockers.
Swope (2-for-4, RBI) had the best bat for the Braves.
The Braves took the two earlier head-to-head matchups, 9-0, and 5-4. The Shockers have seven games remaining in the 28-game regular season and will play at the Clover Hill Bucks on Friday evening.