Miller’s clutch hit lifts Generals past Rams

NEW MARKET – Stonewall Jackson’s Nathan Miller got a little redemption on Thursday night.

Miller just missed out on a home run earlier in the game, but in the seventh inning with the game on the line he came up big for the Generals. Miller’s walk-off single gave Stonewall Jackson a 7-6 non-district baseball victory over Strasburg.

“I was just trying to put together a good at-bat,” Miller said. “(Strasburg pitcher Austin Miller) had walked the first couple batters, but he was locating pretty well (earlier) and struck me out the at-bat before. So I knew he was going to come with some good stuff. I was just basically trying to put the ball in play and hope something happened and that’s what happened.”

Austin Miller retired the first two batters of the seventh inning with Strasburg clinging to a 6-5 lead. Stonewall Jackson’s David Moomaw reached on an error to keep the inning alive. Dustin Thomas drew a walk from Austin Miller and Tyler Somers followed with an RBI single to tie the game.

“It was 3-2 (pitch count), and coach (Mike Lenox) told me it was just a regular at-bat. I just got up there and he threw me a fastball, and I just hit it up the middle,” Somers said. “I didn’t really try and worry about it too much, just put the bat on the ball and put it in play like he’s been telling us to. It was great.”

Stonewall Jackson’s Cole Holsinger was then hit by a pitch to load the bases, setting up Nathan Miller’s heroics. Nathan Miller led off the sixth with a foul ball against Austin Miller, which went foul instead of being a home run, and eventually struck out. This time Miller hit a blooper to right field, which Strasburg couldn’t quite come up with for the game-winner.

“I was ecstatic. I can’t tell you the last time we’ve beaten Strasburg,” Nathan Miller said. “I haven’t beaten them in my whole high school career. It was shocking. It was a shock and the team was very happy.”

The game had a few twists and turns. The Generals built an early 3-0 lead. They scored two runs in the bottom of the first. Holsinger led off with a single against Strasburg starting pitcher Nate Butler, Nathan Miller drew a walk, and Nick Dotson followed with a bunt single to load the bases. Brett Jones drew a walk to score Holsinger, and Nathan Miller later scored on a passed ball for a 2-0 lead.

The Generals (1-1) added another run in the bottom of the second on a wild pitch by Butler with the bases loaded.

The Rams (0-2) rallied with four runs in the top of a wild third inning, which included a 24-minute sun delay. Strasburg’s Adam Miller was hit by a pitch from Stonewall Jackson starting pitcher Somers with one out. Ryan Bowers followed with a single and both runners advanced on an error. Josh Pritchett then followed with a two-run double to cut the lead to 3-2.

Pritchett advanced to third on another error caused by the sun. After the play the umpires called for the sun delay, which was shining directly on the infielders.

After the delay the Rams kept the momentum going. Butler had an RBI single to tie the game, and Somers was then replaced on the mound by Dotson. Eric Reynolds hit an RBI double to give the Rams a 4-3 edge.

“I thought that might give us a little bit of a boost and it did, but we weren’t able to sustain it,” Strasburg coach Jeff Smoot said of Strasburg’s third-inning offense. “Obviously we had some opportunities later to build on that lead, and really did not take advantage of those. Ultimately, that came back to kind of haunt us in the end.”

The Rams extended the lead to 6-3 in the top of the fourth on a two-run single by Adam Miller. However, it would be the last hit of the game for Strasburg.

The Generals were able to get a run in the bottom of the fourth and one in the bottom of the fifth, both came on Strasburg errors.

“They never gave up,” Lenox said. “They understood that they could win this game. … I always tell them get to the last two innings — that’s when games are won and lost. I’m very proud of how they came back, especially after losing on Tuesday (to Central).”

Five different players had a hit for the Rams. Strasburg lost a close game on Wednesday night to Page County, in which they committed six errors. They committed three more against the Generals.

“Obviously based on the way our season has started, we’re just not very good right now,” Smoot said. “We didn’t pitch well enough, don’t hit well enough and certainly don’t defend well enough. It’s just who we are. Out here tonight certainly the best team won tonight, and they deserved it. They earned it.”

Somers led the Generals with two hits. It was the first time the Generals have beaten the Rams in numerous years, and could be a real confidence booster for Stonewall Jackson.

“They know they can do it now. I felt like in pervious years, we’ve almost been there,” Lenox said. “We lost by one, lost by two. It takes a while to get over that hump, and I think this shows them that they can do that.”

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