Cardinals fall to Lumberjacks in extra innings

FRONT ROYAL – Front Royal committed a costly error in the top of the eleventh inning of Wednesday night’s Valley Baseball League contest against visiting Covington, then couldn’t capitalize with a runner in scoring position in the bottom half as the Cardinals fell, 5-4, at Bing Crosby Stadium.

With the game tied in the eleventh, Lumberjacks right fielder Norry Galjour led off with a double against Cardinals reliever Joey Catalani and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt.

Catalani, a Front Royal native and sophomore at Hagerstown Community College, then induced a routine pop fly in the infield off the bat of Orley Arellano. The pop up, to the right of the second base bag, sent Front Royal second baseman Michael Centeno spinning as he tried to get under it, and the ball fell safely to the ground beside both Centeno and shortstop Michael Hartnagel. Galjour raced home to beat the throw to give the Lumberjacks the lead.

Front Royal (9-7), which saw its four-game winning streak snapped with the loss, got a leadoff double by Sebastian Diaz in the bottom of the inning, but he was left stranded at third as Covington’s Nicholas Purpera picked up the save.

The Cardinals had led 4-3 in the top of the ninth inning before Covington (7-6) struck for a run to send the game into extras. Front Royal’s Zac Wiley, who came in to close the game in the ninth, dealt a one-out walk before surrendering an RBI double to Lumberjacks leadoff man Jose Carrera for the blown save.

Front Royal took an early lead with a two-out rally in the bottom of the first inning against Covington starter Jason Polgano. Cardinals first baseman Bernabe Camargo started the spurt with a triple off the wall in left field, and Wiley, who began the game as the Cardinals’ designated hitter, drove him in with a double to left-center.

The Lumberjacks got that run right back with Brandon Vicens’ leadoff home run to right field to open the second inning, and Covington gained a 2-1 lead with another run in the third on Joey Morales’ soft line-drive single to left-center with two outs.

Cardinals starting pitcher Blake Whitney settled in from there, as he retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced before Miguel Reyes’ leadoff homer in the seventh cut Front Royal’s lead to 4-3. Whitney, a junior right-hander from the University of South Carolina Upstate, tossed seven innings while allowing three earned runs on four hits, three walks and five strikeouts.

Front Royal tied the game at 2-2 in the fourth inning, when Michael Centeno was hit by a pitch with two outs and came around to score on Rey Pastrana’s RBI double down the right-field line. The Cardinals broke the tie in the fifth on Wiley’s two-run home run to left-center, his third homer of the season.

Front Royal loaded the bases in the sixth and seventh innings but failed to add to its 4-3 lead both times. In the sixth, the Cardinals put two runners in scoring position with no outs.

Covington failed to take advantage of its own bases-loaded situation in the top of the eighth, as Cardinals reliever Andrew Honiotes got back-to-back strikeouts to escape the jam.

Wiley, who went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, was one of three Cardinals with multiple hits. Camargo was a home run shy of the cycle as he went 4-for-6, and left fielder Emilio Abreu was 2-for-4.

Six of the Cardinals’ first seven hits of the game went for extra bases, and they finished with 12 hits in the loss. Front Royal stranded 11 baserunners in the loss, including nine in scoring position.

Polgano lasted five innings for Covington and allowed four earned runs on seven hits, a hit-by-pitch and six strikeouts. Mark Hendricks, who threw 3.2 innings of two-hit relief, picked up the win for the Lumberjacks.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or