Rebels use balanced effort to get win

NEW MARKET — New Market used a strong starting appearance from pitcher J.D. Waite and some deadly hitting Wednesday night to knock off Front Royal 8-1 at Rebel Park in Valley Baseball League action.

The Rebels (12-17) snapped a two-game losing streak — they had lost seven of their last eight games — in keeping the Cardinals (14-12) from gaining ground on Strasburg in the league’s Northern Division. The latter Express lost, so the Cards remained a half-game behind in the standings.

“I think it’s a testament to the kind of players they are, the kind of programs they come from, and their families,” said New Market manager George Schaefer.

Waite kept his record (4-0) perfect this season as he went seven complete innings, giving up just three hits, striking out four. He walked one and hit one batter.

“I think, for me, I had my changeup working,” said the left-hander from Lander. “It’s a pitch I’ve always had, even since I was a young player, and it’s something I’ve called on at this level. If anything, I’m working on my curveball now.”

The lefty entered the game with five appearances. He had pitched 29 2/3 innings, allowing 26 hits, nine runs (eight earned) and three walks. Waite had struck out 14 and had put up a 2.42 earned run average.

He got relief help from Valley Baseball League Southern Division All-Star Alex Britt, who fanned two Cardinals in just one inning. Justin Robarge came on in the ninth to get the side out, though the Cards loaded the bases against him.

But the big bats came out on this night for the Rebs. After watching Charles Town rip 20 hits against its pitching on Tuesday night, New Market belted out 10 hits against Front Royal starter and loser Indelacio Romo (1-3), himself a Northern Division All-Star.

The VBL All-Star game is slated for Sunday in Harrisonburg.

“We have really good hitters on this team, and it was just about them getting the pitches they wanted to hit and stay aggressive at the plate,” said Waite.

New Market put the first runner on base in five of the Rebels’ eight offensive frames. Thatcher Coleman doubled twice in two at bats, Storm Edwards poked two hits in three trips, including a double; and Zach Callahan went 3-for-3. Callahan drove in three runs.

Romo completed just three innings before Front Royal manager Brad Neffendorf lifted him. The starter struck out four, but allowed five runs, three of which were earned.

Neffendorf, whose team had won two of three entering the fray, used four pitchers in all against New Market as both teams played in humid, misty conditions.

Schaefer was able to use 12 non-pitchers in the game.

New Market went right to work in the bottom of the first. Garrison Elliott got on base via an error to drive home Connor Gunn and Edwards, who had doubled.

In the bottom of third, Gunn, a Southern Division All-Star who scored three runs, walked. Coleman then doubled to left. That was followed by an Edwards single. Elliott drove home Gunn and another error scored Coleman. Callahan’s sacrifice fly to right scored Edwards for a 5-0 Rebel lead.

Front Royal reliever Aaron Howell opened the bottom half of the fourth. He walked Nate Blanchard. Gunn singled to left and then Coleman’s second double sent Blanchard home. Gunn moved to third and then Edwards walked to load the bases. Out went Howell. In came Patrick Coffin. Callahan singled to right to score pinch runner Levi Wright and Edwards for the 8-0 lead.

In the top of the eighth, Front Royal put its first two runners on base via singles by Tre Porter and Drew Small. A third straight base hit went to Northern Division All-Star Edgar Lebron. It scored Porter with Front Royal’s only run. Drew Small moved to third with no one out. But reliever Britt, who replaced Waite in the inning, bore down and retired the side. He had two strikeouts.