By Jeff Nations
STEPHENS CITY -- It took a while, but Randolph-Macon Academy's top of the order came through in a big way on Monday against host Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy.
Through six innings, R-MA's top four hitters -- Spencer Petty-Kane, Robert DeBerry, Joey Monastero and Doug Brennand -- had combined to go 3-for-12 against the Patriots. In the top of the seventh, that quartet produced four straight hits to break out a tie ballgame and boost the Yellow Jackets to a 7-2 season-opening baseball win.
SVCA (1-2) had rallied back to tie the game at 2-all in the bottom of the sixth, but the Yellow Jackets didn't let that stand for long. Petty-Kane, R-MA's leadoff hitter, roped a leadoff double to left off Patriots left-handed reliever Tristan Baker.
DeBerry followed with a single to left, then took second without a throw to put two runners in scoring position. Monastero plated the go-ahead run with another single to left, then stole second before Brennand drove in two more runs with a double to center field.
"The bottom of my order, that's where all my experience is," R-MA coach Robert Locklear said. "I've got a junior and sophomore who started last year on that championship team, and a senior who's started for me for four years. But I've got a lot of young kids up at the top of that lineup."
Baker then walked a pair of batters to load the bases, and one out later Jeremiah Hixson stroked a single to right for two more RBIs.
"They got the bat on the ball," SVCA coach Bobby Wheelock said. "My guy was leaving the ball up. I'm sure the cold weather had a little bit to do with that, but it comes down to they actually hit the ball and we really struggle with that."
The Yellow Jackets opened the scoring in the first inning when R-MA starting pitcher Thomas Minchew slapped an RBI single toward right field off SVCA starter Patrick McGrath.
R-MA added another run in the top of the second when John Camarella led off with a single and eventually scored on an error.
The Patriots got one run back in the bottom of the fourth when Jacob Heflin reached on an error with one out and moved up two bases on a wild pitch before Cody Robertson drove in the run with a double to right-center.
Robertson tied it in the bottom of the sixth when he scored on DeBerry's wild pitch.
The Yellow Jackets' outburst in the seventh gave DeBerry plenty of margin in the bottom of the inning, but after allowing Baker's leadoff single he set down the next three batters to close out the win.
DeBerry led R-MA with a 3-for-5 effort at the plate. Minchew was 2-for-3, and Monastero and Camarella were each 2-for-4.
"We're really young, but we're actually pretty talented," Locklear said.
SVCA had just three hits in the game.
"I know we can hit; we just haven't come around to do it yet," Wheelock said.
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com>