Late rally lifts Express past Royals
By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STRASBURG — Strasburg trailed early against Winchester on Friday night, but Express manager Ben Moore and his players were not too concerned. The Express have been playing with confidence and it showed in a fierce seventh-inning rally.
The Express used a nine-run seventh inning to pull out an 11-3 victory over the Royals in Valley Baseball League action. It is the eighth win in the last 10 games for the Express.
“When we were down 3-0, it never felt like we were down 3-0,” Moore said. “It felt like a 0-0 ballgame. That’s just a good feeling to have. Sometimes you get down 3-0 and it feels like 7-0. I think earlier in the year when we were in that losing streak, it felt like we were down 7-0, but right now it’s simple. For some reason these guys have just clicked together, and they never freak out.”
The Express scored nine runs in the bottom of the seventh on nine hits, including two home runs, and sent 15 batters to the plate against four Winchester pitchers.
Tyler McDonald started the inning off with a solo home run to tie the game at 3-3 against Winchester starter Luke Mould. Strasburg’s Sky Overton, who had five hits in the game, followed with a double chasing Mould from the game.
Winchester reliever Brandon Vogler entered the game and Strasburg’s Tyler Asbill singled to score Overton. Strasburg’s Dustin Woody followed with an RBI single to give the Express a 5-3 lead.
“They ran out of pitching and we capitalized on their arms,” Woody said.
Kevin Baron followed with a two-run homer to extend the lead to 7-3.
“It was a 2-0 count, he just left a slider up,” Baron said of the homer. “I wasn’t really sitting on it, but he hung it up there, and found the barrel and got one over the fence.”
Baron was a triple short of the cycle, and had an RBI single later in the seventh inning.
Winchester took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning on a two-run homer by Winchester’s Wes Hoover and scored another run on a throwing error.
The Royals (11-19) had four hits in the inning, but managed only three more in the contest.
Strasburg starting pitcher Taylor Martin went seven innings and struck out 10.
“That’s four quality starts in a row by Martin,” Moore said. “Another great job by our bullpen guys.”
The Express (14-15) cut the lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth. Overton reached on a bunt single with one out against Mould. One out later, Woody followed with an RBI single, and Baron had an RBI double to cut the lead to 3-2.
Strasburg pounded out 17 hits in the win.
“Some nights you see the ball better than others,” Baron said. “Tonight was just one of those nights where I think we all saw the ball well as a team very well. We just put good swings on the ball from the start. It took a couple innings for them to start falling in.”
Woody and Baron each had three hits for the Express. Hoover had two hits to lead the Royals.
The Express have been on a roll lately, and Moore said it was good to see both the offense and the pitching having a strong night at the same time.
“We finally pieced it together,” Moore said. “We pitched well and hit well. When we do that we’re pretty hard to beat.”
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd