Pritchett hits game-winning homer for Rams

FRONT ROYAL — Strasburg saw a seventh-inning lead slip away on Thursday night, but Josh Pritchett saved the day in an extra-inning win.

Pritchett’s solo home run in the top of the eighth gave the Rams a 4-3 Bull Run District baseball victory over Warren County in a game that lasted just short of three hours at Bing Crosby Stadium.

With the game tied at 3, Pritchett led off the eighth against Warren County reliever Stephen Johnson with a shot over the center-field fence for a 4-3 lead.

That would be all the Rams would need as Strasburg reliever Garrett Richards allowed only an infield single in the bottom of the eighth to secure the win.

It appeared the Rams were going to end things in the seventh. Strasburg held a 3-1 lead, but Richards struggled early and walked Joseph Rutherford and Eric Baker. With two outs and runners on second and third, Richards intentionally walked John Reith after starting with a 2-0 count.

With the bases loaded, pinch-hitter Connor McMackin hit a fly ball in between left field and third base. Miscommunication by Strasburg infielders and outfielders allowed the ball to drop in, and scored two runs to tie the game.

Strasburg (5-0, 4-0 Bull Run) took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning as Ryan Smoot reached on a single off Warren County starter Rutherford. A throwing error on a pickoff attempt allowed Smoot to go from first to third. Pritchett’s sacrifice fly then gave the Rams the early lead.

The Rams extended the lead in the top of the third inning. Strasburg’s Adam Miller and Noah St. Clair had back-to-back singles. With two outs, Nathan Butler’s RBI single stretched the lead to 2-0.

Warren County (2-2, 2-2 Bull Run) answered in the bottom half of the inning. With two outs, Robert Rutherford doubled to left-center, and Baker followed with a single off Strasburg starter Mark Smoot. Mike Burrola doubled to right field to cut the lead to 2-1. Reith drew a walk to load the bases, but Mark Smoot got out of the jam by inducing a groundout to end the inning.

The Rams added another run in the top of the sixth inning. Mark Smoot drew a walk from Johnson to start the inning. A sacrifice bunt by Richards and a wild pitch moved Mark Smoot to third. Ryan Bowers followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Rams a 3-1 lead.

Warren County had a very strong pitching effort from Joseph Rutherford, who went five innings, allowing just four hits and striking out 10.

The Wildcats had their chances throughout the game, stranding 11 runners on base. Warren County had seven hits, one each from seven different players. The Wildcats host William Monroe on Tuesday.

Mark Smoot and Richards each pitched four innings. Mark Smoot allowed five hits, striking out four. Richards struck out nine, allowing only two hits.

Ryan Smoot led the Rams at the plate with two hits. Strasburg hosts Central on Tuesday.

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com