Improved Rams beat Generals for third straight win

STRASBURG – After an inauspicious start to the high school baseball season, Strasburg appears to be getting back on track.

The Rams, who opened the season with two straight losses, won their third consecutive game Tuesday night by way of a 10-3 home victory over county rival Stonewall Jackson at First Bank Park.

The win avenged an earlier loss to the Generals, who saw their own three-game win streak snapped with the loss.

“We’re just better than we were two weeks ago,” Rams coach Jeff Smoot said.

“We’re better at everything. We’ve got, certainly, still a long ways to go, but where we are now compared to two weeks ago is like night and day. I mean we at least have given ourselves a chance to win, where the opening week we didn’t hardly even give ourselves a chance.”

Strasburg (3-2) notched 12 hits against three different Stonewall (3-2) pitchers in Tuesday’s win, providing plenty of run support for junior starting pitcher Adam Miller. The right-hander went the full seven innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits, two walks and two hit batters while striking out six.

Perhaps most importantly, Strasburg’s defense – which committed nine errors in the Rams’ first two games of the season – didn’t commit an error behind Miller.

“It was a pretty good outing,” said Miller, who improved to 2-1. “I was feeling well in the bullpen. My arm felt great and I just went out there, was able to locate, defense played well for me. That’s a huge key because I’m not gonna go out there and strike 10, 12 batters out. I might finish with three or four and I’m happy with that. I’m trusting the defense and they helped me out today.”

The Rams staked Miller an early lead with a run in the bottom of the second inning, which came when Eric Reynolds singled to lead off the frame and later scored on Justin King’s bunt.

Strasburg added onto the lead with five more runs in the third inning off Generals starting pitcher Cole Holsinger. Miller reached on an error to lead off the inning, and junior Ryan Bowers narrowly missed a home run with a double off the top of the fence in left field. Josh Pritchett drove in both runners during a spurt that saw the Rams record four straight hits.

“A huge-run lead is huge in baseball. It calms everyone down,” said Miller, who scored three runs from the top of Strasburg’s batting order. “… You get a little bit of a run going, they don’t wanna be the guy to break it up and it’s just contagious up there.”

Following senior Nate Butler’s single, Reynolds reached safely on a bunt single, during which a Stonewall throwing error allowed two more runs to score. Justin Rickard’s sacrifice fly put the Rams up 6-0 before Holsinger was finally able to escape the inning.

Strasburg took a 7-0 lead in the fourth inning on Bowers’ RBI single after Miller led off with a double on a screaming line drive down the left field line.

Butler’s three-run home run to left field off Stonewall reliever Wyatt Estep put the Rams up 10-1 in the sixth inning.

Bowers went 3-for-4 at the plate to lead four multi-hit performances that included Pritchett (2-for-4, two RBIs), Butler (2-for-4, home run, three RBIs) and Reynolds (2-for-3, two runs scored). Seven different starters recorded at least one hit for Strasburg.

Bowers couldn’t pinpoint the reason for the Rams’ hitting success at the plate Tuesday night.

“Honestly I couldn’t tell you. It came from somewhere,” Bowers said. “Coach talked to us the other day, told us basically that we need to be a team, not just play as an individual. I guess we finally did that and the outcome was great.”

Stonewall finally broke through for a run off Miller in the top of the fifth inning, when Dustin Thomas doubled to lead off the frame and came around to score on Nathan Miller’s two-out double. The Generals scored two more in the seventh inning, one on Tyler Somers’ RBI double that scored David Moomaw – who led off with a double – and an RBI single by Holsinger (2-for-3, double).

Five of Stonewall’s six hits were doubles, although the Generals failed to score in the first four innings despite putting the leadoff man on in three of those frames.

“We just didn’t execute tonight,” Stonewall coach Mike Lenox said, “and they executed every situation properly. Coming up here, it’s a hard place to play. We hit the ball pretty well. I don’t think we played terrible, we just didn’t execute what we needed to execute. We put ourselves in a couple binds with a couple errors here and there. But overall not terrible.”

Holsinger lasted three innings while giving up six runs (two earned) on seven hits, a walk and a strikeout. Nick Dotson pitched two innings of relief and allowed a run on three hits, a walk and two strikeouts.

Stonewall Jackson returns to action tonight in a non-conference road game at Rappahannock County. Strasburg will host Bull Run District/Conference 35 rival Clarke County on Friday.

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

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