By Jeff Nations
STEPHENS CITY -- It's a good thing Cody Robertson has some experience in waiting between pitching opportunities.
The Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy freshman right-hander has pitched sporadically for the Patriots this season, with his last action on the mound coming nearly a month ago before he got the start in Monday's home matchup against Massanutten Academy.
Robertson showed few ill effects, even with the additional down time of a few extremely long innings thanks to SVCA's lineup. Robertson allowed just one hit while striking out nine as the Patriots rolled to a 19-2 victory shortened to five innings by the 10-run mercy rule.
"It's been kind of on and off with me," Robertson said. "I've been having some arm problems this year and have kind of struggled through it, but it's starting to work out."
"I appreciate everything they do for me," Robertson said.
Maybe that rust showed a bit in the top of the first inning, as Massanutten Academy jumped on Robertson for two runs to open the game. Carlos Almanza reached on a fielder's choice, stole second and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Courtesy runner Michael Kim, in for Justin Elshafie after he was hit by a pitch, later came around to score on Christopher Alicea's RBI groundout.
SVCA (4-4) got those two runs back and then some in the bottom of the second, plating eight runs despite coming up with just one hit in the frame. Elshafie, starting for the Colonels, was victimized by a four-error inning and at one point walked four straight batters. Patrick McGrath did some damage for the Patriots with a two-run single to left field.
The Patriots were just getting warmed up, as they plated five more runs in the third. Two scored on bases-loaded walks issued by John Love, and another came in on a hit-by-pitch with the bases jammed in the inning.
Massanutten Academy (1-5) could get little going after that first-inning outburst against Robertson. Elshafie broke up the potential no-hitter with a clean single to right field in the top of the third, but he was thrown out at first after taking too wide a turn toward second base.
Including that play, Robertson retired the final 14 batters he faced on Monday.
"He's one of our key guys," SVCA coach Bobby Wheelock said. "We needed to get him going because so far with all of our gaps because of snow and rain and everything, we've been able to stick with our top two guys a lot. So he hasn't had a lot of innings yet this year -- I think he was sitting at four or five innings pitched coming into today. It was really good for us to at least get him an opportunity to throw."
The Patriots erupted for six more runs in the bottom of the fourth with help from three more errors by the Colonels. Pinch hitters Matthew Robertson and David McManus, who stroked a double, each drove in a run in the innings for SVCA.
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com>