Express rally past Lumberjacks

STRASBURG — For six innings Strasburg didn’t have a hit on Wednesday night, but in the seventh everything turned around.

The Express strung together six hits, including three home runs in two innings, to rally for a 4-2 Valley Baseball League victory over Covington at First Bank Park. The game was delayed by one hour and 20 minutes due to rain and lightning.

“We struggled against that big lefty (Covington starting pitcher Mike Hancher), and then once we got the first hit off that side-arm guy (Covington reliever Donovan Futrell) it kind of just opened up,” Strasburg’s Dylan Ingram said. “The whole summer we’ve kind of played every game until it was over, and whatever happens, happens. So we didn’t really worry about not having any hits for a while. We just kept hitting and playing and it worked out for us.”

The Express got their first hits of the game in the bottom of the seventh and made the most of them. With one out, Alex Galgano reached on an infield single off Futrell. Donovan May followed with a two-run homer over the right-field fence to tie the game at 2-2.

“Basically we were just trying to chip away and get something going,” May said. “Once Galgano got on base I was just looking for my pitch to hit, and I saw a fastball and I had to jump on it.”

In the bottom of the eighth, Ingram drilled a pitch from Futrell over the center-field fence to give the Express a 3-2 lead.

“I faced the guy earlier in the game. He threw a lot of good pitches and he was throwing me a bunch of change-ups, which is weird right (hander) on right (hander),” Ingram said. “The last at-bat I just went up there and was just saying look for something up, because he was a sinker ball guy. I got deep in the count, and he threw one up and I put a good swing on it and it went out.”

Strasburg’s Michael Curry followed with a solo homer of his own to extend the lead to 4-2.

Strasburg reliever Abe Almonte threw nothing but strikes in the ninth to record his fourth save of the season.

Strasburg starting pitcher Peyton Plumlee didn’t make it through the fifth inning, but relief pitcher Alex Schnell pitched 3.1 innings in relief, allowing only one hit.

“He threw against one of his (Clemson University) teammates here one night, and we were like where has that been? We’ve been trying to draw that out of him,” Strasburg manager Butch Barnes said of Schnell. “I’ll be honest with you he manned up tonight. He took that hill and he was in the zone, and he was throwing the ball pretty firm. I can’t give him enough credit. Because after the start we got from Peyton (Plumlee), he came in and just shut the door on those guys.”

The Lumberjacks (16-12) took the lead in the top of the third. With one out, Bruce Martin singled off Plumlee. He later stole second and eventually scored on an error for a 1-0 lead.

The Express (22-9) had opportunities throughout the first six innings to scored despite not having any hits. The biggest opportunity came in the bottom of the fourth.

Hancher walked Curry and Galgano to start the inning. Hancher struck out May, but then walked Tyler Halas to load the bases.

Hancher got out of the jam by striking out Haiden Lamb and Erick Delgado.

Covington stretched the lead to 2-0 in the top of the seventh. Orley Arellano doubled off Schnell. Arellano eventually scored on a Strasburg error for a 2-0 edge.

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