Porter’s blast lifts Cardinals over Tom Sox

FRONT ROYAL — Tre Porter picked the perfect time to hit his first home run of the season.

The Sherando graduate drilled a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth to give Front Royal a 3-2 victory over Charlottesville in Valley Baseball League action on Thursday at Bing Crosby Stadium.

“It feels good, definitely in that situation, also, was good. Tie game, 2-2 and to hit that home run there to go up 3-2 to finish the game off,” Porter said. “It was good.”

With the game tied 2-2 and one out in the bottom of the eighth, Porter sent a shot over the left-field wall to give the Cardinals the lead for good.

“I saw a curveball up and in, in my zone that I could get a hold of and I hit it pretty well, got it out of here,” Porter said.

Most of the game was dominated by pitching. Front Royal used five pitchers to scatter eight hits and strike out five.

Front Royal manager Brad Neffendorf said he’s been mixing up his rotation lately because they were having trouble getting starters to go deep in the game. The combination of starter Joe Romero, Dillon Dove, Caleb Woods, Corey Sessions and Chris Gammons worked well against the Tom Sox.

“[Romero] did a great job and everybody that came in did a good job,” Neffendorf said. ” … It worked out well. We were able to mix and match them all night.”

The Cardinals took the lead in the bottom of the third off Charlottesville starter Matthew Eagle. Drew Small singled and Edgar Lebron was hit by a pitch. With two outs, Chase Lunceford’s RBI single gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.

The Tom Sox (14-15) tied the game in the top of the fourth. With two outs, Charlottesville’s Kevin Conway doubled to the right field wall to score a run.

The Cardinals (15-12) answered in the bottom of the fourth. Colby Dishmond, Dalton Rogers and Greg Lambert each singled to load the bases with no outs. Eagle was able to retire the next two batters without giving up a run, but Small’s RBI single gave the Cardinals the 2-1 lead.

“We did just enough,” Neffendorf said of Front Royal’s timely hitting. “I’d like to see a little more. … Porter, he’s been starting to get it going here. He had a good year at Shepherd. We need that out of him.”

The Tom Sox tied the game again in the top of the sixth. Seth Lancaster drew a walk from Dove and Chris Perez doubled to left field. With one out, Neffendorf brought in Woods and he was able to get a strikeout. Christian Lowry drew a walk, and Jake Sidwell followed with an RBI single, but Woods induced a flyout from Ryan Larson to the end inning with the game tied.

“That was a long AB, 3-2 count, [Larson] fouled a couple off and [Woods] made a pitch to get himself out of it,” Neffendorf said. “That’s a game-changer right there. … That’s a game-changing out right there. He minimized the inning. … He did a great job.”

The Tom Sox were led by Lancaster with two hits. Lunceford had three hits for the Cardinals.

The Cardinals have won four of their last six, and Neffendorf said he’s happy with how the team is playing.

“We’ve won four of our last six and four here in the month of July, which is huge for us,” Neffendorf said. “Last summer we started out so unbelievable, we kind of shut down there in the month of July, and I thought we had the best team in the league last summer, that’s just me personally. But our guys right now four of our last six in the month of July is pretty good. … Our goal is to make the playoffs, and I hope we can work to stay in there.”

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