Express cruise past Cannons in playoff opener

Strasburg's Carter Pharis gets tangled up with Purcellville catcher Onassis Matos during this third inning play at home plate Friday night at First Bank Park. Matos missed the throw and Pharis was safe on the play. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG — Strasburg didn’t lose any momentum it had entering the postseason.

The Express dominated Purcellville in every phase of the game for a 16-6 victory Friday in Game 1 of the Valley Baseball League playoff quarterfinals.

“It was a real good game by us,” said Strasburg’s Brandon Quaranta, who had two homers and five RBIs in the game. “We were just trying to come out and get as many runs up as we could, trying to save our pitching. (Starting pitcher) Keegan (James) did a heck of a job out there for us giving us six strong. … Just a good game from everybody.”

Strasburg (31-12) took the lead in the bottom of the third. With one out, Strasburg’s Dylan Ingram hit a solo homer. Michael Curry drew a walk from Purcellville starting pitcher Tyler Yancey. Strasburg’s Jacob Tisevich, who just joined the team recently after spending most of the season with the Woodstock River Bandits, followed with a two-run homer for a 3-0 lead.

“Dylan had the home run in the second inning, kind of got us ahead. From there everyone kind of got on board,” Quaranta said. “We were swinging the bats well tonight.”

Strasburg's Michael Curry, left, greets Jacob Tisevich, right, at home plate after Tisevich hit a two run homer during the second inning against Purcellville Friday night at First Bank Park. Rich Cooley/Daily

The Express had nine players get at least one hit. Strasburg had 14 hits total, including four homers.

In the bottom of the third, the Express added three more runs. With one out, Erick Delgado reached on an infield single. Carter Pharis followed with a single.

Quaranta singled, and a two-base error moved him to third and scored both Delgado and Pharis for a 5-0 lead. A sacrifice fly RBI by Ingram stretched the lead to 6-0.

The Express scored four more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Purcellville reliever Kevin Fuentes loaded the bases with three walks. Fuentes was replaced by Nicholas McIntyre. Curry’s two-run double gave the Express an 8-0 lead.

Tisevich followed with a sacrifice fly RBI and Tommy Richter RBI single gave Strasburg a 10-0 lead after five innings.

Strasburg's Erick Delgado slides into second base on a steal as Purcellville's second baseman Eriq White has to leap to catch the throw during fourth inning action Friday night at First Bank Park. Rich Cooley/Daily

The Express added four more runs in the bottom of the sixth. Delgado led off the inning with a double. Pharis reached on an error, scoring Delgado. Quaranta followed with a two-run homer for a 13-0 lead. An RBI single by Drew Avans later in the inning stretched the lead to 14-0.

Quaranta added another two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh, which sailed over the trees outside of the left-field fence.

“I try to hit the ball hard every time, to have good at-bats,” Quaranta said. “I don’t try to hit a home run. But I saw a couple good fastballs, and tried to put good swings on them and was lucky enough to get them to go a good way over the fence. It felt good.”

James went six innings, allowing just three hits and striking out five for the Express.

“Keegan was working hard out there,” Strasburg manager Butch Barnes said. “He didn’t have his best stuff, I didn’t think. But it’s hot out there. The bottom line is he battled, he competed.”

Purcellville's Colton Lightner slides safely into second as Strasburg's Tommy Richter puts on a late tag during a second inning steal Friday night at First Bank Park. Rich Cooley/Daily

The Express can wrap up the best-of-3 series today when they play at Purcellville. Quaranta said they know the Cannons won’t go away quietly.

“They’re going to come back (Saturday). They’re going to want to win. They’re going to be tough the rest of the series,” Quaranta said. “…We just have to keep going inning by inning and one game at a time.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or

Strasburg short stop Erick Delgado backs up to catch this fly ball during second inning action against Purcellville Friday night at First Bank Park. Rich Cooley/Daily

Strasburg's Erick Delgado grins as he walks back to second base after reaching home on a foul ball during fifth inning action Friday night at First Bank Park. Rich Cooley/Daily

Strasburg manager Butch Barnes talks with the umpire on a foul ball call during playoff ation against Purcellville on July 29 at First Bank Park. Rich Cooley/Daily file

Strasburg's third baseman Carter Pharis cranks a throw to first base to throw out Purcellville's Wade Arduini during an infield ground ball in the third inning Friday night. Rich Cooley/Daily