Rams pass Falcons

WOODSTOCK – Nate Butler did a little bit of everything for Strasburg on Thursday night.

The senior had a strong performance on the mound, and helped himself with four RBIs as the Rams beat Central 8-1 in a Bull Run District baseball contest.

“I felt good,” Butler said. “… I tried to hit my spots a little bit, I was doing well. I had good defense out there too, so that helped.”

Butler pitched five innings, and faced one batter in the sixth. He allowed just one hit, and struck out nine.

He said that part of his success was due to changing his form.

“I was throwing across my body. I tried to straighten it out a little bit,” Butler said. “It helped me throw for more strikes.”

The Rams (11-6) scored two runs in the top of the first. Strasburg’s Adam Miller and Colten Smith started the game off with back-to-back singles off Central starting pitcher Gus Wightman. A Josh Pritchett bunt single led to a throwing error, which allowed Miller to score.

Butler’s sacrifice fly RBI gave the Rams a 2-0 lead.

Strasburg coach Jeff Smoot said having that early lead helped Butler on the mound.

“The fact that we were able to get a few runs early, I think, allowed us to pitch more to the middle of the plate,” Smoot said. “He had enough life on his fastball, we didn’t have to nibble. We just let him challenge their hitters with the kind of lead that we had early.”

The Rams added two more runs in the top of the second. Strasburg’s Austin Miller was hit by a pitch. He moved to second on a passed ball and to third on a dropped third strike. Brian Scholten’s RBI single gave the Rams a 3-0 edge.

With two outs, Smith reached on an error and Pritchett was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Butler then drew a walk from Wightman to stretch the lead to 4-0.

In the top of the fourth the Rams added to their lead. Adam Miller was hit by a pitch. With two outs, Pritchett drew a walk and Butler followed with an RBI single.

“When I was up at the plate I was trying to get base hits, and fortunately I had people on base at times where I was able to hit the ball out there and score some runs off that.”

Another run scored on a balk by Wightman with Pritchett on third.

Butler got into a little trouble in the bottom of the fourth. Central’s Hank Hoover and Mason Marston drew back-to-back two-out walks. Jared Rice followed with an infield single to load the bases, but Butler struck out Jordan Hosaflook to end the inning.

“It seemed like every time he needed to make a pitch he was able to do so,” Smoot said.

The Rams added two more runs in the top of the sixth on another sacrifice fly RBI by Butler, and Adam Miller stole home on a delayed steal.

Adam Miller replaced Butler in the sixth and allowed just one hit in two innings. The Falcons scored a run in the bottom of the sixth on an error.

“We didn’t play our best game,” Central coach Donn Foltz said. “I’m not taking anything away from them, but we did not play our best game. … This was not the same team that showed up when we played Strasburg down there (a 9-8 loss earlier this season). It was just one of those nights.”

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