By Jeff Nations
WAYNESBORO - It wasn't the most efficient way to score five runs, but Waynesboro couldn't complain about the final result during Monday night's Valley Baseball League championship series against visiting Strasburg.
The Generals stranded a slew of runners - 14 in all - but still managed to plate enough runners for a 5-1 victory to even the best-of-three series at one-all and force tonight's deciding Game 3 at First Bank Park in Strasburg.
The Express had their chances - plenty of them - but managed to cash in for just one run against the Generals despite getting the leadoff runner on in eight straight innings starting in the second inning. Strasburg left 13 runners on base, including runners at third on five separate occasions during Monday night's game at Kate Collins Field.
The loss snapped a 10-game winning streak for Strasburg and set up tonight's winner-take-all Game 3.
"We stranded a small village," Strasburg manager Butch Barnes said. "You're allowed to do that, on the run that we've just had. Like I just told them, it's one game. We don't have a lot to worry about. It's a one-game championship.
"We're going back home, where we like it. We'll see what happens."
The Generals opened the scoring in the bottom of the second with three straight one-out singles. Corbin Lucas delivered the third with a liner to left field off Express starter Ashton Fronsoe that plated Brian Beard. Fronsoe escaped further trouble by getting Kevin Fagan to ground into a fielder's choice and then inducing an infield pop-up by Jomarcus Woods.
The Generals managed another run in the third after Fronsoe loaded the bases by hitting a batter, issuing a walk and surrendering a single. Fronsoe got the second out without damage by getting Beard on a pop-up to third, but then forced in a run by hitting Ben Boykin in the ankle with a two-strike slider.
Strasburg left a slew of runners in scoring position, stranding runners at third in the second, fourth and fifth innings against Waynesboro starting pitcher Kyle Allen.
"Strasburg is a much-improved team," Generals manager Mike Bocock said. "Butch and his staff have done a great job with those guys. They're a very good baseball team."
Fronsoe battled trouble all night, and finally left with the bases loaded and just one out in the fifth. Express manager Butch Barnes called for left-hander David Hafer out of the bullpen to face No. 9 hitter Kevin Fagan. Hafer needed just one pitch to induce another pop-up for the second out, then got Woods to ground out weakly to first to end the inning.
Allen left his own mess in the sixth, exiting with the bases loaded and VBL batting champion and MVP Jordan Tarsovich at the plate. Right-handed reliever Laetten Galbraith promptly gave up a single to right as Tarsovich broke up the shutout and pulled the Express within a run. Galbraith recovered by striking out Andrew Kubuski and Erik Armstrong to strand three more runners.
The Generals extended their lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth on Quinn Griffith's RBI single off Strasburg reliever Brandon Hallford.
Waynesboro tacked on an insurance run in the seventh when Ben Boykin scored on Adam Emerson's wild pitch. Emerson caught the throw back to the plate from catcher Teddy Payne in time to make the play, but Boykin eluded the tag to score.
Waynesboro added one more run in the bottom of the eighth. Tyler Bocock drew a lead-off walk from Evan Kirsch, took second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Anthony Iacomini followed with a liner to center that was deep enough to score Bocock, and Tarsovich ensured it by slipping as he tried to make the catch and dropping it for an error.
"I tip my cap to Waynesboro," Barnes said. "They did what they had to do to get up on us, and we just didn't get it done tonight."
Strasburg will get its second and final shot at the Lineweaver Trophy tonight. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
"Both teams get one shot to win it," Mike Bocock said. "And it's going to be two good baseball teams going at it for one game, and I think that's what needs to happen."
Mike Bocock was uncertain who would start tonight for the Generals on the mound, expect that he'll be a right-hander. Barnes tentatively named righty Matthew Fischgrund to start tonight, depending on how well he bounced back from Sunday night's one-inning relief stint.
"Don't get me wrong - we'd love to win," Barnes said. "But my main objective is that they're all healthy when they leave here to go back to school. These guys aren't getting much of a summer. They've spent their summer with us."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>