Kerwin blasts Rebels past Cardinals

FRONT ROYAL – Dan Kerwin didn’t have the kind of game he wanted to on his birthday Tuesday. However, he made up for it on Wednesday.

The New Market Rebel had two home runs to help the Rebels to a 4-1 Valley Baseball League victory over Front Royal at Bing Crosby Stadium.

“(Tuesday) was my birthday, and I went 0-for-3 with 3 k’s. So I kind of had to make up for it (Wednesday),” Kerwin said. “… I’ve just been struggling lately. You just got to trust the process. Trying to keep the same approach and it just went my way tonight.”

The Rebels (2-3) took the lead in the top of the first. New Market’s Stibel Aleman-Soba singled with one out off Front Royal starting pitcher Blake Whitney. One out later, New Market’s Nicholas Dabo drilled a two-run homer over the center-field wall for a 2-0 lead.

“From the offensive side, you hit three home runs – you don’t usually count on that when you play with wood bats in the summer,” New Market manager Zac Cole said. “Great job by those guys. We just were resilient tonight. We wanted to win. We lost a couple of close ones, and these guys were hungry to come out and get back on track.”

The Cardinals (4-2) cut into the lead in the bottom of the third. Front Royal’s Jose Gomez drew a one-out walk off New Market starting pitcher Joey Johnson. Front Royal’s Joe Mundy hit an RBI double to cut the lead to 2-1.

New Market extended the lead in the top of the sixth. With one out, Kerwin hit a solo home run off Front Royal reliever Joey Catalini for a 3-1 lead.

Kerwin hit his second homer of the game in the top of the eighth to stretch the lead to 4-1.

“The first one I got a good fastball, middle of the plate and just drove it like I was supposed to,” Kerwin said. “Then the second was just a slider in and I pulled the trigger.”

The Rebals also had a strong pitching effort. Johnson went five innings, allowing just two hits. New Market reliever Matt Sharp went the last four innings, giving up just two hits.

“Both Joey and Matt were outstanding,” Cole said. “Any time you can limit a team to four hits and one run, you’re definitely doing a good job on the mound. We threw strikes and Matt did an outstanding job. That’s tough to come on in that situation – just a two-run lead. (At the end of the game) he’s getting to the height of his pitch count right there, but he just competed his butt off and we’re proud of him.”

The Cardinals had plenty of opportunities to score more runs. They left eight runners on base, including two in the ninth inning.

“Offensively we were better than (Tuesday) night,” Front Royal manager Victor Gomez said. “We made some adjustments. I think it was about 5 or 6 out of the nine innings we had runners in scoring position. We just didn’t get that big hit. We just didn’t come through. I thought we had better at-bats. I thought we barreled some balls. We just didn’t get that big hit.”

Kerwin and Aleman-Soba had three hits each to lead the Rebels. Kerwin said he feels very good about his team despite the slow start to the season.

“We have a lot of talent,” Kerwin said. “We have a lot of good guys. A lot of guys that show up and work hard every day and that’s huge.”

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