Panthers blast their way past Generals

Cole Holsinger, Stonewall's shortstop, dives in an attempt to knock down a hit by Page County's Tylor Williams that went up the middle during sixth inning action Friday evening in New Market. Rich Cooley/Daily

NEW MARKET – Page County senior outfielder Dakota Thomas admits that sometimes it takes the Panthers’ baseball team a couple innings to start making solid contact at the plate. But after those first few innings, he says, the Panthers are “good to go.”

Stonewall Jackson starting pitcher Cole Holsinger danced around danger by stranding three Page County runners in scoring position in the first two innings of Friday night’s Shenandoah District game at Rebel Park, but things unraveled after that for the Generals.

Page County erupted for 11 runs on 10 hits over the final four frames – led by Thomas’ four hits and four RBIs – while Ryan Cave held Stonewall to just three hits as the Panthers cruised to an 11-1 road victory that was shortened to six innings due to the mercy rule.

“They hit the ball real well tonight,” Stonewall coach Mike Lenox said of the Panthers, who had 12 hits in the win. “I mean, I think Cole did a good job those first two innings. He was stifling them and I guess he kind of just lost control. We just didn’t hit the ball either tonight. … (Cave) just kept us off-balance.”

Page County (6-1, 2-0 Shenandoah) seized control of the game with a six-run third inning, providing plenty of run support for Cave. The junior right-hander pitched all six innings for the Panthers and allowed one earned run on three hits, a walk and six strikeouts. Cave was very efficient after a 22-pitch first inning, as he needed just 64 pitches to pick up his second win of the season while retiring the final 11 batters he faced.

Stonewall's Nick Dotson misses a bunt attempt during first inning action against Page County. Rich Cooley/Daily

“Just throwing it down the middle and see what they can do with it,” said Cave, who also had two RBIs at the plate. “I’ve got a heckuva defense behind me.”

The lone run Stonewall (4-3, 0-1) could muster against Cave came in the bottom of the first inning, when Holsinger reached on a leadoff infield hit and scored on Nathan Miller’s two-out RBI single to right field.

That lead held up until the third inning, which began with three walks from Holsinger – including one with the bases loaded that tied the game – and a Stonewall error before the junior was pulled from the game.

Holsinger appeared to lose his release point in the inning while frequently missing high in the zone, and Lenox said the right-hander – who pitched three innings on Tuesday – might have felt the fatigue from the Generals’ three-game week.

“It’s been a long week for us,” Lenox said. “This is our third game and we’ve had a couple long trips for these guys and late nights. It’s something they haven’t done (and) today they might have been dragging a little bit. It’s still early in the season. We’re still trying to get in a routine. We haven’t really had a good routine yet.”

Tyler Somers, Stonewall's third baseman, fields a ground ball from a Page County batter during second inning action Friday. Rich Cooley/Daily

Panthers sophomore Jacob Day (2-for-3, triple, two RBIs) broke the 1-1 tie with an RBI single off Generals reliever Nick Dotson before Thomas cleared the bases with a three-run double off the base of the wall in left field. Nathan Lucas’ RBI single gave Page County a 6-1 lead.

Thomas wreaked havoc on Stonewall pitching, as he was 4-for-4 with a double, a solo home run and four RBIs.

“I’ve got my own strike zone. If it’s in my strike zone I know I can crush the ball,” Thomas said. “I had a couple hits where, I mean, I was hitting the ball but it wasn’t to my capability, and then when I hit that home run it was just everything complete.”

Thomas was one of four Panthers with multiple hits, joined by Day and fellow seniors Seth Comer (2-for-3, double, two runs) and Tylor Williams (2-for-3, double, three runs).

Page County added two runs in the top of the fourth inning and three more in the sixth, including Thomas’ solo blast to left-center.

Stonewall's Cole Holsinger fires a pitch during first inning action Friday against Page County in New Market. Rich Cooley/Daily

Stonewall Jackson, meanwhile, recorded just one hit after the first inning – Dotson’s single in the third – and saw just 16 pitches over the final three innings against Cave.

“I told them I didn’t want them going up there taking pitches. The guy was around the zone,” Lenox said of the Generals’ aggressiveness at the plate. “… I mean that was crazy but I’d rather them be aggressive than not. That’s the only way you’re gonna get back in a game like that.”

Holsinger was charged with four runs (three earned) on two hits, four walks and four strikeouts in two-plus innings on the mound, while Dotson was tagged for seven earned runs on 10 hits to go along with two strikeouts over 3.1 innings.

“They just caught fire and that’s how this game went,” Lenox said. “You’re gonna have games like this sometimes, even good teams, and that’s what I just told them. They’ve just gotta keep working hard.”

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