By Tommy Keeler Jr.
NEW MARKET -- Central overcame a sluggish start, and came up with the big hits when it needed them on Monday.
The Falcons used a five-run sixth-inning to pull out a 9-6 non-district baseball victory over Stonewall Jackson at Rebel Park in the season opener for both teams.
"Overall, for the first game and for the limited time on the field, I was very impressed," Central coach Donn Foltz said. "I'm not satisfied, but I can be happy."
The game was tied at 4-4 going into the top if the sixth, when the Falcons' bats came to life. Corey Sibert led off with a walk against Stonewall Jackson starting pitcher Colton Harlow. One out later, Shaddai Devalle drilled a double down the right-filed line to put runners on second and third.
Jordan Rau followed with an RBI single for a 5-4 lead. Tristan Rau then reached on an error, allowing Devalle to score.
Cody Sager reached on an infield single to load the bases. Ben Kline's RBI groundout gave Central a 7-4 lead.
"We did the little things [in the sixth]," Foltz said. "We got bunts down, ran the bases well. We weren't as passive at the plate. I told my young guys, some of them were passive at the plate. And that's one thing I was very impressed with from our older guys -- they were a little more aggressive at the plate and they made the adjustments."
Zach Herbaugh then added a two-run single to extend the lead to 9-4. Harlow pitched six complete innings, striking out 11.
"I wanted him to get some work," Stonewall Jackson coach Mike Lennox said of Harlow. "We don't play for another week. I felt like he was fairy dominant early. Going deep into counts hurt him tonight, got his pitch count up. I think he got a little tired towards the end."
The Generals were able to add a run in the bottom of the sixth and one in the bottom of the seventh.
The Generals struck first, taking a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Brett Jones in the bottom of the first inning. Central tied the game in the top of the third, all of the damage came with two outs. Jordan and Tristan Rau each singled, and Sager was hit by a pitch to lad the bases. A wild pitch then allowed the tying run to come in.
The Generals came right back in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Matt Murphy reached on a two-base error, and an RBI single by Cole Holsinger gave the Generals a 2-1 lead. Holsinger stole second, and after a walk to Jones, scored on an error on a ball hit by Kory Somers.
That chased Central starting pitcher Hayden Bauserman from the game. Foltz said he felt some stiffness in his shoulder and didn't want to take any chances.
Central scored one run in the top of the fourth on a walk and two Stonewall Jackson errors. They then took a 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth.
Jordan Rau drew a walk, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. An RBI double by Sager tied the game at 3-3. Two batters later, an infield single by Herbaugh gave the Falcons a 4-3 edge.
The Generals tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth on a double by Nathan Miller, and a sacrifice fly by Holsinger.
Foltz said he was very happy with the pitching of Kline and Zach Hamman in relief of Bauserman.
"Tickled to death because they're both unproven commodities," Foltz said. "Ben's pitched sparingly, Zach did a great job. Both of them did."
The Generals were led by Jones and Daniel Buhl with two hits each.
"It's definitely a place where we can grow and build from," Lennox said of the opening game. "That's the main goal that I tell them -- It's not where you start it's where you finish."
Jordan Rau, Sager, Herbaugh and Devalle each had two hits for the Falcons.
"We aren't going to be satisfied, and we're going to work hard," Foltz said. "That's our goal We're going to work hard every day and try to get better, and how things work out, they work out."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org