Cardinals roll to win over Cannons

Front Royal Cardinals Kevin Williams Jr. slides head first safely into second base as Purcellville's second baseman Tommy Ziegen leaps for the ball to make a play during the third inning of Thursday night's game at Bing Crosby Stadium. The Cardinals scored six runs in the third inning. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Front Royal scored their first six runs without recording a hit, and starting pitcher Blake Whitney made a solid debut for his Valley League team as the Cardinals rolled to a 12-4 win over visiting Purcellville on Thursday evening at Bing Crosby Stadium.

Front Royal (2-0) seized control of the game with a six-run third inning, an outburst that was powered by four walks, a hit batter, three Purcellville (0-1) errors and four wild pitches. The Cardinals did not record a hit until the sixth inning.

Tyler Kaiser and Clay Hunt, the Cardinals’ No. 8 and 9 hitters, respectively, led off the bottom of the third inning with back-to-back walks off Cannons starting pitcher Pat Doudican. Both scored on a throwing error on Michael Hartnagel’s sacrifice bunt attempt that allowed the Cardinals’ leadoff man to race around to third.

Hartnagel then scored on Emilio Abreu’s RBI groundout that ended in Purcellville’s second error, and Cory Garrastazu’s RBI groundout gave Front Royal a 4-0 lead. Another Cannons error with two outs on a routine throw to first extended the inning, allowing another run to score in the process, and a wild pitch plated Kevin Williams Jr. for a 6-0 Cardinals lead.

That was plenty of run support for Whitney, who lasted 6.2 innings while allowing two earned runs on five hits, two walks and seven strikeouts in the winning effort. The right-hander from the University of South Carolina Upstate retired 16 of 17 batters between the first and sixth innings – including a string of 11 straight outs – before running into trouble in the top of the seventh.

Front Royal's shortstop Michael Hartnagel makes an off-balance throw to first to force out Purcellville's Deaires Moses during Thursday's game at Bing Crosby Stadium. Rich Cooley/Daily

Purcellville finally broke through for a pair of runs off Whitney in the seventh, as Onassis Matos led off with a single before a run-scoring double by Daniel Gooden cut Front Royal’s lead to 8-1. Relief pitcher Mitch Stophel came on with the bases loaded and two outs in the frame and walked the first batter he faced to plate a run before escaping further damage.

Front Royal’s first hit came on a leadoff double by catcher Rey Pastrana (2-for-4, two doubles, two RBIs) into the net in right-center that was initially ruled a home run. Pastrana would cross the plate on the next at-bat on Tyler Kaiser’s double to left. Kaiser scored on Hartnagel’s fielder’s choice for an 8-0 Cardinals lead.

The Cardinals, who finished with seven hits, added four runs to their lead in the eighth inning with four hits off Cannons reliever Mike Tang. Hartnagel and Abreu led off the frame with back-to-back singles before a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases with no outs. Chris Medina (2-for-5) then lined a two-run single into left for a 10-2 lead, and Pastrana made it a 10-run cushion with a two-run double.

The Cannons scored a pair of runs in the top of the ninth on Raul Cabrera’s jam-shot single into right field.

Kaiser and Jose Gomez each reached base four times and scored twice for the Cardinals, who drew seven walks in the victory.

Front Royal's Kevin Williams Jr. makes an off-balance step onto home after a ball passed the catcher during the third inning of Thursday's game in Front Royal. Purcellville's pitcher Matt Copley struggles to get control over the ball and Williams was safe on the play. Rich Cooley/Daily

Stophel pitched the final 2.1 innings of relief for Front Royal, allowing two unearned runs on a pair of hits, three walks and three strikeouts.

Doudican lasted just 2.2 innings in his start for Purcellville, as he was tagged for six runs (two earned) on five walks and three strikeouts.

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