By Brad Fauber
NEW MARKET -- Stonewall Jackson's fielding woes continued in a late-game collapse against visiting Luray on Wednesday evening at Rebel Park.
The Generals committed eight errors and saw a two-run lead evaporate in the middle innings against Luray, who broke out of a recent hitting slump to claim a 9-8 Shenandoah District victory.
"We didn't play well today. We haven't played well the last couple games," Generals coach Mike Lenox said of his squad, which has lost three of its last four. "It's really frustrating because we played really well the first four or five games and we've kind of hit a little slump here."
The Bulldogs (3-8, 3-3 Shenandoah) tallied a season-high 11 hits in the victory, but Stonewall Jackson's defense gave them plenty of help. Only three of Luray's nine runs were earned runs, and five of the Generals' errors came in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
"I don't know if it's nerves getting to us or whatever," Generals senior Colton Harlow said. "It seems like in practice we normally have really good practices, so there's really no reason for it to happen. We work on things -- I guess we've just got to focus more in the games. Maybe we just get a little to confident or something, I don't know."
Stonewall Jackson (3-6, 3-3), which also was limited to just four hits at the plate in the loss, was able to use some aggressive baserunning and capitalize on Luray's own mishaps to mount an early lead.
After Luray took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning following a Generals error and a two-out RBI single by Bulldogs starting pitcher Tyler Campbell (2-for-4, two RBIs), Stonewall responded with two runs in the bottom of the frame to take the lead.
Harlow (1-for-3, RBI, two runs scored) was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame and stole second base with junior Bradley Henschel at the plate. Henschel then tied the game at 1-1 with an RBI single to center field.
Henschel (1-for-3) scored later in the frame as he stole second, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch.
Stonewall added another run to increase its lead to 3-1 in the second inning when Calvin Alger walked, moved to second on an error and came around to score on two wild pitches.
In all, five of the Generals' runs came directly as a result of a wild pitch, passed ball or a Luray throwing error. Stonewall also had five stolen bases.
"When the bats aren't going too well we've just got to pick up anything we can," Harlow said. "Stealing, passed balls -- you've got to read any passed ball in the dirt because you've got to take advantage of those."
Luray finally broke out against Stonewall starting pitcher Matt Murphy in the top of the fifth inning, as the Bulldogs struck for three runs on four hits and a Stonewall error.
Jacob Moyer began the fifth with a bunt single, and a two-out single by Campbell put runners on the corners for Josh Good (2-for-4, two RBIs). The Luray sophomore drove in a run on an infield single that deflected off of Murphy's glove, and an error on Keaton Seal's single to left allowed two more runs to score. Seal was thrown out trying to advance to third to end the inning with Luray leading 4-3.
"Matt is a pitcher where they're going to put the ball in play, and if you don't back him up then it seems like he did a bad job. I thought he kept us in the game," said Lenox of Murphy, who pitched five innings and allowed one earned run on nine hits while striking out three. "He did exactly what I wanted from him. I told him to give me five innings. ... He's pitching well. He just needs to keep the ball down in the zone, which he usually does."
Stonewall Jackson answered with three runs in the bottom of the fifth to regain the lead, as Kory Somers and Harlow scored on a passed ball and a throwing error, respectively, and senior Daniel Buhl plated Cole Holsinger (three walks, two stolen bases) with an RBI double to right field.
But Luray came right back against Somers, who came on in relief in the top of the sixth. All four batters Somers faced reached safely and came around to score, and an RBI fielder's choice by Seal off Holsinger gave the Bulldogs a 9-6 lead.
The Generals added two runs in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI groundout by Harlow and a Luray throwing error.
The Bulldogs committed five errors in the game, and Campbell and Jordan Lowery combined to issue 10 walks.
"It was an ugly win. We made our share of mistakes," Bulldogs coach Steve Griffith said. "There were a lot of mistakes in the ballgame, but maybe we made one or two less mistakes than Stonewall did. It was an exciting game, that's for sure."
Harlow pitched a scoreless seventh inning for Stonewall and recorded four strikeouts in the frame. Lowery pitched 2 1/3 innings to get the win for Luray.
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com