Generals walk off against Falcons for second straight win

NEW MARKET – Staring down an eight-run deficit might have appeared an insurmountable task for Stonewall Jackson High School baseball teams of the past. But this year’s Generals are not those Generals.

They proved that in a walk-off win over Strasburg last week, and they proved it again Tuesday night.

For the second time in as many games, Stonewall Jackson walked off against a Shenandoah County rival, as the Generals rallied from an early barrage from Central’s bats to stun the Falcons, 12-11, at Rebel Park.

“We’re a different team now,” said Generals senior Damian Loya, who hit the game-winning sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh inning, “and we definitely are more confident than we would’ve been (in the past).”

Stonewall Jackson (2-1), which scored all 12 of its runs in the final three innings, entered its final at-bat in the bottom of the seventh inning trailing the Falcons (2-2) 11-9 but appeared to have most of the momentum after breaking through against Central’s pitching for nine runs in the fifth and sixth innings.

Sophomore Tyler Somers (2-for-3, double, walk, three runs), batting from the No. 9 spot, ensured the Generals would rip away any shred of momentum the Falcons had been clinging to with a leadoff single on a fly ball down the left-field line to start the seventh.

Central pitcher John French plunked Generals junior Cole Holsinger to put two on with no outs, prompting Falcons coach Donn Foltz to turn to right-hander Jordon Hosaflook. The senior, making his first pitching appearance of the season, dealt walks to the next three hitters he faced while Stonewall scored runs on a passed ball and a wild pitch during that span to tie the game at 11-all.

With the bases loaded and no outs, Loya drove an 0-1 offering from Hosaflook deep to center field, sending Central’s Tristan Rau scampering toward the fence. Rau hauled in the catch but was far too deep in center to attempt a throw home as senior Nathan Miller crossed the plate for Stonewall’s winning run.

“I was so freaked out because it might be up to me to try to win this game,” Loya said of watching the bottom of the seventh inning unfold. “So I went up there, I was like all right you’ve gotta do something. With that kind of attitude, that’s how I hit the ball.”

Stonewall’s three-run seventh inning capped a wild shift for the Generals’ offense, which was held hitless until Dylan Vann (3-for-4, double, two RBIs) notched an infield single in the fourth. That snowballed into a four-run fifth inning for the Generals, who cut Central’s lead to 8-4 on a two-run triple by Holsinger, an RBI double by Miller and a run-scoring infield single by Vann that was nearly thwarted by a great diving play by Falcons third baseman Gus Wightman.

“I think we were a little bit timid at the plate in the beginning and I just said, ‘Go up there and be aggressive like in BP,'” Generals coach Mike Lenox said. “And that’s what they did and we started putting balls in play. And (Central) made some miscues but that’s part of putting the ball in play. We were striking out way too much early in the game and it was killing our opportunities to even have a chance of getting on base.”

The Falcons, who banged out 14 hits in the loss, came back with three runs in the sixth inning as senior Corey Sibert (3-for-4, two doubles, four RBIs) capped his huge day at the plate with a two-run double, which French – who made several solid defensive plays in the field – followed with an RBI single to push Central’s lead to 11-4.

Stonewall, which had 10 hits, answered with five runs in the bottom of the sixth, powered by RBI doubles by Holsinger and Vann. Brett Jones had an RBI single and Miller plated a run on a groundout in the frame, and a Central error allowed a run to score to pull the Generals within 11-9.

“The old Stonewall I think would’ve given up and laid down through the rest of the game,” said Holsinger, who was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored from the leadoff spot. “But new team this year, new players. It’s more of a family now, everybody knows everybody. … It really helps out when you have that.”

Stonewall had no such luck at the plate early, as Falcons starter Luke Estep didn’t allow a hit in his three innings pitched. Foltz opted to pull the sophomore lefty – who had five strikeouts – after the third inning with Central leading 8-0.

“We hoped we could hold an eight-run lead and we didn’t,” Foltz said. “It’s my fault, so there ya go. I made the call and that’s it.”

The Falcons jumped on the Generals quickly, as Estep singled home a run in the top of the first inning. Central added five more runs off Somers – Stonewall’s starter – in the third inning behind RBIs by Johnathan Baker, Jared Rice and Sibert, three Generals errors and a balk. Estep and Sibert picked up RBIs in the fourth inning to push the Falcons’ lead to 8-0.

Rau (2-for-4, three runs), Estep (2-for-3, two RBIs), Hosaflook (2-for-4, double) and Baker (2-for-3, walk, three runs) each had a pair of hits for Central, which had to use five different pitchers, three of which made their first appearances of the season.

“We’re young and they got their chance tonight and came up a little short,” Foltz said. “I told the kids I get the losses, that’s mine. They’ve got to continue to work hard. A lot of people … cut their teeth tonight.”

Wyatt Estep earned the win for Stonewall as he tossed a hitless seventh inning.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com

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