Consistency sparking Strasburg to stellar season

Strasburg Express manager Butch Barnes, left, chats with one of his catchers as the teams watches action during their June 22 game against the New Market Rebels at First Bank Park. The Express have the best record in the Valley Baseball League, 23-9. Rich Cooley/Daily file

The Strasburg Express have been a model of consistency all season.

The Express entered Friday’s games with the best record in the Valley Baseball League at 23-9, and have a five-game lead in the North Division. The Express have been in first place all season.

“It’s all about routine. We come out here, we get our early work in. We know the goal for the day is to win a ballgame, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to win,” Strasburg’s Donovan May said. “I think that’s been key for us, despite days where we might have a rain out or where we might have to wait. We always try to stay loose and relaxed, and when game time comes we’re right back to being mentally focused again. I think that contributes to us every day coming out here and doing our thing.”

The Express have had success with a solid offense and pitching all season. The Express are hitting .290 as a team.

Strasburg manager Butch Barnes said that he’s been impressed with how consistent the team has been. He said that the team has one of the top records in all of the collegiate baseball summer leagues.

“I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Barnes said of the consistency. “They’ve come to the ball park every night. Now have we been successful every night? No, nine times we’ve been unsuccessful, but you know what? If you would have told me at the beginning of the year we were going to be 22-9, I’ll take it. … For this team to be ranked where they were nationally – that’s a first for us. To get those kind of accolades these guys must be doing something pretty good.”

Double trouble: Bernabe Camargo and Zac Wiley have become a force for Front Royal’s offense this season.

Camargo generally hits third in the Cardinals’ lineup, with Wiley hitting right behind him in the clean-up spot. The Cardinals have struggled at times offensively this season, but Camargo and Wiley have been solid at the plate.

They are first and second on the team in many categories. Wiley, who plays at Bellermine University, is batting .310 (26 for 84) with four homers, seven doubles, 15 RBIs, 14 runs scored and 10 walks. Camargo, who plays at Galveston College, is batting .295 (31 for 105) with two home runs, six doubles, one triple, 13 RBIs, 13 runs scored and seven walks.

“If he doesn’t hit it then I’ll pick him up, and if I’m not hitting he’s picking me up,” Wiley said. “I know if we are both hitting at the same time then it’s like the rest of the team feeds off it. So we both just feed off of each other.”

Wiley said that he and Camargo have formed a strong friendship as well.

“Him being from Venezuela and me being from the states, it’s kind of cool coming together and playing together,” Wiley said. “We’ve kind of grown together. We got a good friendship going on now.”

Timing is everything: New Market has been a little up and down throughout the summer, but the Rebels are starting to play their best at the right time.

New Market entered Friday’s games with a three-game winning streak and having won five of its last seven contests.

“The games have been better,” New Market manager Zac Cole said. “We’ve played cleaner, getting better pitching and timely hitting. We had it early, and in the middle there we were kind of struggling. It just feels good to get it all coming together at the right time.”

Cole said even when the team was struggling he was confident they would turn things around.

“When you’re around teams and you play baseball, as a coach you get a feel for your team, and there’s been a great feel around this team the entire time,” Cole said. “Things didn’t go our way early, and we lost some games we probably should have won. Now I feel like we’re starting to get some bounces our way, some things to go our way and I’m not complaining. That’s the right time for it.”

Leading the way: Woodstock’s Nick Ward is near the top of the Valley Baseball League in batting average.

Ward is fourth in the league with a .365 batting average (38 for 104). He also has three homers, 20 RBIs, nine doubles, one triple and nine stolen bases.

The rising junior from West Chester University also has a 0.00 ERA in one inning pitched for the River Bandits.

Ward played in the VBL All Star Game on July 10 and went 1 for 2 with a run scored.

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