What A Relief
WINCHESTER — Woodstock was able to rally to take the lead and then used a strong bullpen performance to hold on Wednesday night.
The River Bandits allowed only one run after the second inning en route to a 7-5 Valley Baseball League win over Winchester.
“It was a total team effort,” Woodstock manager Phil Betterly said. “We had some guys come up huge. We were able to keep the momentum going. That was big. When you score it’s always important to keep the momentum going by holding the other team scoreless their next time up and we were able to do that and then start to rack on some more runs.”
The first three innings was a back-and-forth affair.
The Royals started things off with a run in the first inning. Alex Mata, Michael Landestoy and Nathanial Maggio hit three consecutive singles, and Maggio’s drove in Mata for a 1-0 lead.
The River Bandits responded in the top of the second. Justin Woods singled off Winchester starting pitcher Brandon Guske. With one out, Matt Koehler singled, and an RBI single by Spencer Holcomb tied the game at 1-1.
An RBI double by Andrew Selby gave the River Bandits a 2-1 lead.
Winchester came right back with a three-run second inning. Kevin Fuller had a lead-off single off Woodstock starter Joey Johnson. With two outs, Sean Visconti was hit by a pitch and Mata followed with an RBI single. Landestoy reached second on a single and an error, which allowed two runs to score for a 4-2 lead.
Woodstock battled back in the top of the third inning. With one out, Will Thompson singled. Esteban Puerta drew a two-out walk. Koehler drilled an 0-2 pitch down the left-field line for a two-run double to tie the game at 4-4.
The River Bandits took the lead in the top of the sixth. With one out, Koehler singled and Holcomb followed with a single. One out later, a two-run single by Selby gave Woodstock a 6-4 edge.
“I just tried to battle, keep it simple and come through for my team,” Selby said. “That’s kind of what I was thinking and I was able to do it.”
Selby also made a couple great catches in right field, including one in the bottom of the fourth. Selby made a catch at the wall off a shot by Maggio to end the inning with a runner on.
“He did a tremendous job at sprinting to the fence, finding the fence and then making the play look easy,” Bettrely said. “That’s a big time hustle play and that’s how he plays. He plays hard, and I’m happy to have him.”
The Royals cut the lead to one in the bottom of the seventh. Landestoy led off with a single off Woodstock reliever Hunter McIntosh. Maggio drew a walk, and McIntosh was relieved by Brady Jones. With one out, Spencer Levine drew a walk to load the bases.
Woodstock turned to 6-foot-7 reliever Chris Ward. A wild pitch scored a run, but later Levine was picked off of second to end the inning.
The River Bandits added another run in the top of the eighth. Puerta singled and Koehler drew a walk against Winchester reliever Nick Sarmiento. Sherando graduate John Bentley came on in relief. With one out, Joey Asola gave the River Bandits a 7-5 lead with an RBI single.
The River Bandits had 12 hits and The Royals had 13. Woodstock used three pitchers in relief and the trio of McIntosh, Jones and Ward combined to allow five hits in six innings, only one run and struck out four.
“Guys came in and pounded strikes and challenged hitters,” Betterly said. “That’s what you got to do when you come out of the bullpen, and I’m proud of all those guys.”
The Royals (14-16) were led by Landestoy with four hits. The River Bandits (12-19) were led by Koehler with three hits and two RBIs and Selby with two hits and three RBIs.
The River Bandits are now 2.5 games out of the fourth and final playoff position in the North Division, and their final 11 games are all against North Division opponents.
“It’s big,” Selby said of Wednesday’s victory. “We’ve had a couple close games, a lot of close games. If we can get a couple wins here, keep winning and hopefully make a playoff run here late.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or email@example.com