Express play complete game in rout of Cannons

STRASBURG — Strasburg put together a complete game on Thursday night.

The Express used solid pitching, stout defense and a strong offensive effort to cruise to a 12-3 Valley Baseball League victory over Charles Town at First Bank Park.

“I was telling the guys in the postgame meeting, ‘To date that’s our most complete game,'” Strasburg manager Stefanos Stroop said.

The Express had six errors in each of their last two losses, which came in a three-day span before Thursday’s game. Strasburg played error-free baseball against the Cannons.

Stroop said that the team has shortened batting practice some the last few games so they could field more grounders.

Strasburg’s Ryan Flick, the reigning VBL Offensive Player of the Week, said when the defense is clicking it helps the offense as well.

“When things are going well on defense, it’s easy to come in there with no stress and have some good at bats and string together some hits,” Flick said.

Strasburg’s bats came to life early against the Cannons. The Express scored 10 runs in the first three innings.

Daniel Midyett had a one-out double in the top of the first, and Flick’s RBI single gave the Express a 1-0 lead. Strasburg’s Chris Akmon followed with a two-run homer to give the Express a three-run cushion.

In the top of the second, Charles Town battled back. With one out, Christian Khawam and Sam Fragale had back-to-back singles. Austin Bream tied the game at 3-3 with a three-run home run over the center-field fence off Strasburg starting pitcher Wade Arduini.

The Express bounced right back in the bottom of the second. Strasburg sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning.

Strasburg’s Brandon Harvell and Bradley Dixon had singles and Donovan May drew a walk to load the bases. Midyett and Drew Johnson had back-to-back RBI singles, and Flick followed with a two-run single for a 7-3 lead.

“I think [hitting] definitely is contagious,” Flick said. “When we see our teammates have success, it makes us feel like we can get up there and do the same thing. Tonight was a fun night for that.”

That was more than enough offense for Arduini and relief pitcher Tyler Hott (Shenandoah University). Arduini went six innings, scattering three hits after the second inning. He finished with six strikeouts. Hott, a Strasburg graduate, threw four innings, allowing four hits and striking out three.

“Pitching-wise, Wade got in a little bit of trouble early, settled down and threw strikes,” Stroop said. “Tyler Hott came in and threw strikes.”

The Express added three more runs in the third, including a two-run double by Flick. They also had two more runs in the fifth on a two-run homer by Midyett, who finished a triple shy of the cycle.

Khawam led the Cannons, going 4 for 4, while Bream was 3 for 4.

Strasburg was led at the plate by Flick, who went 3 for 3, and Midyett, who was 3 for 5. The Express have bounced back strong after each loss they’ve had this season, which Stroop said is a positive sign.

Flick said he’s really happy with how the team is playing early in the season.

“I feel like if we keep playing defense like we did tonight we’ve got a good chance to go a long way,” Flick said. “We’ve just got to keep getting better as the year goes on and see where it takes us.”

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