Home run launches Royals over Express

WINCHESTER — Winchester picked a perfect opportunity to hit its first home run of the season, and it launched the Royals to a Valley Baseball League victory.

Hayden Platt’s two-run dinger in the second gave the Royals a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in a 9-2 victory over Strasburg on Wednesday night.

“It was big. It got our guys pumped up,” Winchester manager Stu Richardson said. “It really picked us up and put us ahead.”

Trailing 1-0, Winchester took the lead in the bottom of the second. A passed ball on a strikeout allowed Winchester’s Luke Gibbs to get on base. Platt followed with a two-run home run to give the Royals a 2-1 edge.

The Royals weren’t done in the second. Daniel Brumbaugh drew a walk from Strasburg starter Wade Anduini. Sean Viscanti doubled and Brumbaugh scored on a throwing error for a 3-1 lead. Viscanti later scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Alex Mata.

It was the first start of the season for the Express.

“I think we came back down to Earth a little bit,” Strasburg manager Stephanos Stroop said. “But hats off to Winchester — they swung the bats and had good pitching.”

The Express took the lead in the top of the first. Strasburg’s Donovan May reached base on an infield single and then stole second. An RBI single by Bradley Dixon gave Strasburg a 1-0 lead.

The Express (4-1) were able to cut into the Royals’ lead in the top of the fifth. Drew Avans and Yan Rivera singled, and May followed with a single to load the bases with one out. Avans scored on a fielder’s choice, in which the Royals were unable to get anyone out, to cut the lead to 4-2.

Winchester starting pitcher David Lee then struck out Daniel Midyett and induced a groundout by Ryan Flick to end the threat.

The Express left eight runners on base.

“We couldn’t get the big hit,” Stroop said. “We had some bad approaches at the plate. … I don’t think we came out as focused as we needed to be tonight.”

The Royals (3-2) responded with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Winchester’s Khalii Denson led off with a double, and eventually stole third. With two outs, an RBI single by Zachary Carter extended the lead to 5-2.

“That was a big run. They were pumped up and we negated their run with one of our own,” Richardson said. “When you can do that it really gets you going again. … We did a really good job with runners in scoring position.”

Strasburg High School grad and Shenandoah University pitcher Tyler Hott came on in relief in the sixth for the Express. Winchester’s Luke Gibbs singled and reached second on an error. A wild pitch moved Gibbs to third and a sacrifice fly by Platt pushed the lead to 6-2.

With two outs, Viscanti doubled and scored on an RBI single by Denson.

The Royals added two more runs in the bottom of the seventh on RBI singles by Levine and Gibbs.

Lee went 6 2/3 innings for the Royals, allowing only seven hits and striking out four.

“He had a great performance,” Richardson said of Lee. “He kept the ball down and he threw for strikes.”

Stroop said he was pleased with all of the pitchers he used against the Royals. Strasburg’s defense didn’t help the out, as the Express made three errors.

The Royals had 14 hits and were led by three hits each from Carter and Denson, while Platt had three RBIs. The Express were led by May with two hits and a run scored.

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