Pitching helps spark Express past Generals

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

STRASBURG — Strasburg manager Ben Moore made a decision a few weeks ago to bring his bullpen down in the dugout during games to help bring a little life to the dugout. The move has worked perfectly for the Express, and on Thursday night it was the pitching on the field that made the difference.

The Express had strong pitching and just enough offense to pull out a 2-1 victory over Waynesboro.

Strasburg has won seven of its last nine games, and Moore said the move to allow the bullpen to sit in the dugout has definitely been part of that success.

“The energy in the dugout is just unbelievable since we did that and that’s something you don’t see in a book or see on the field but it’s something that’s helped our team out dramatically,” Moore said. “Pitchers are what they are. They’re crazy. They’re creatures of habit.

“I made the move and we won six games right after that.”

Strasburg starter Thomas Durkin (Coastal Carolina University) went six innings for the Express allowing five hits, one unearned run and striking out four, despite not having what he felt was his best stuff.

“I had to compete with what I had and I thought I did a good job of doing that,” Durkin said. “It was pretty much a grind throughout the game.”

Durkin said it helped having his catcher from Coastal Carolina, Dustin Woody, behind the plate.

“We have a good idea what to do in each situation,” Durkin said. “I know how he catches games generally, and I feel comfortable with what he calls and I trust him.”

The Express took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Strasburg’s Luke Wurzelbacher and Jay Lizanich each singled with one out off Waynesboro starter Phillip Taylor. Joe Camp then doubled to give the Express a 1-0 lead.

“I was definitely looking for a pitch up in the zone,” Camp said. “He had been throwing changeups low all night. I was definitely expecting him to throw up in the zone and he gave me a changeup over the plate a little bit.”

Waynesboro threatened in the top of the fifth. Waynesboro loaded the basses with two outs, but Durkin was able to induce a fielder’s choice grounder by Steve Pollakov to end the inning.

The Generals scored a run in the top of the sixth on a single and an error, but the Express came right back with a run in the bottom of the sixth.

Woody singled and stole second and moved to third on a single by Kevin Baron. With two outs he scored on a passed ball to give the Express a 2-1 lead.

Wayensboro threatened in the top of the ninth off Strasburg reliever Chase Wissman, who went 2.1 innings in relief.

Moore brought in Sean Stephenson with one out, and a bunt single by Gruber loaded the bases. However, Michael McClellan hit into a game-ending double play to give the Express another win.

“I do it to a lot of guys on our team, I bring them in with the tying run and winning run on second base,” Moore said. “Stepehnson and [Braden] Riddle I do it to them all the time. I don’t know how they handle it. I don’t know how they do it, because to be honest with you I couldn’t do it myself. And for some reason they get out of every situation. It was just a great job all around by our guys.”