By Tommy Keeler Jr.
NEW MARKET -- One inning can make all the difference in baseball. Stonewall Jackson found out the hard way on Tuesday night at Rebel Park.
One bad inning proved costly as the Generals fell to East Rockingham, 5-3, in Shenandoah District baseball action.
"We just had a bad inning. We pretty much beat ourselves tonight completely," Stonewall Jackson coach Mike Lenox said.
The Generals led 3-0 entering the top of the fourth. Stonewall Jackson senior pitcher Colton Harlow was dominant in the first three innings, allowing only one hit and striking out six. However, due to Virginia High School League rules Harlow could only pitch three innings. Harlow pitched five innings on Friday.
Stonewall Jackson junior Matt Murphy came on in relief, and didn't get the best defense behind him. The Generals committed three errors in the inning, which helped lead to a four-run fourth.
An infield single by Isaac Dean and a bunt single by John Dofflemyer were the only East Rockingham hits in the inning, which gave the Eagles a 4-3 edge.
"I thought Harlow was as good as anybody we've seen all year -- single-A, double-A," East Rockingham coach David Scott said. "The Virginia High School League rules got him out of the game, otherwise I think that's going to be a hard-fought game from there on.
"I think offensively we were able to put a lot more pressure on them with [Harlow] out of the game. I think the scoreboard indicates that."
The Generals (5-8, 5-5 Shenandoah) took the lead by scoring one run in each of the first three innings off East Rockingham pitcher Shannon Cross.
In the bottom of the first, Harlow led off with a double, and eventually scored on a fielder's choice hit by Daniel Buhl.
Harlow added an RBI double in the bottom of the second to score C.B. Alger for a 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the third, Cole Holsinger led off with a triple, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Buhl.
The Generals struggled at the plate throughout the rest of the game. In the bottom of the fifth, the Generals had an opportunity to cut into a 5-3 deficit.
Harlow led off with a single, and Bradley Henschel followed with a single. However, Harlow got caught in a run down between second and third and was tagged out. Henschel was later picked off first for the second out of the inning.
Scott said he was very happy with Cross's performance in the last few innings.
"Shannon [Cross] got stronger as the game went on," Scott said. "I was very pleased with his innings late in the game. He was ahead of hitters and those innings were short. And if they did get a hit, it wasn't hit very hard. I thought that was because he got ahead of hitters late in the game -- from the fourth on."
The Eagles (13-2, 7-2 Shenandoah) had only six hits, including two by Dean.
Scott said he was proud of the way his team battled back after being down early in the game.
"I think that's one thing you can definitely say about these guys is they're not going to give in," Scott said. "They're going to fight all the way to the end. They do every game, and I'm proud of them for that."
Harlow went 4-for-4 at the plate for the Generals, while Buhl had two RBIs.
The Generals are still in good position in the district and conference. If they can defeat Page County later this season, they could earn the No. 2 seed in the Conference 35 tournament.
Lenox said the team just has to put the loss to East Rockingham behind them.
"I have high expectations for them because I've seen the way they can play," Lenox said. "I always tell them you've always got to keep moving forward, learn from the mistakes you made and move forward, and keep practicing what we're doing."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or email@example.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd