Rebels falter on road against Royals

WINCHESTER – New Market had little to smile about after stepping off Bridgeforth Field on Wednesday night.

The Rebels suffered from erratic pitching and some sloppy defense early, and couldn’t muster the offense to counteract those woes in a 6-1 loss to the Winchester Royals in Valley Baseball League action.

The loss came on the heels of New Market’s lengthy extra-inning victory at Charlottesville the night before.

“We had a 14-inning game last night and we just came out flat,” Rebels manager Zac Cole said. “There’s not a whole lot more to say than that.”

The season-long battle with pitching inconsistencies continued for New Market (10-18) in the loss, as Rebel pitchers combined to deal eight walks in the first five innings against the Royals (16-11). New Market allowed a total of 11 walks in eight innings to go along with two hit batters and six hits allowed.

“That’s been a frustrating point for us all year and it definitely reared its ugly head tonight,” Cole said.

Rebels starter Jonathan Bowlan struggled with his command from the start and ended up walking six batters – including the leadoff man in each of the first three innings – while plunking another in only three innings of work. The right-hander from the University of Memphis didn’t get much help from his defense either.

Winchester struck for a run in the bottom of the first inning as a result of a New Market throwing error. The sequence began with a double steal by the Royals, during which Winchester’s Devin Gearhart initially appeared to be thrown out at third before the ball flew from the glove of New Market’s Brendan Donovan on the slide. Jacob Koos, who stole second on the play, then got caught between second and third and drew a throw to second from Donovan, who sailed the ball into right field and allowed Gearhart to score.

Another error in the second inning led to a pair of unearned runs for Bowlan and the Rebels. The Royals’ first run of the frame scored with two outs when New Market shortstop Luke Manzo made a nice backhand play in the hole before firing wide to first on Gearhart’s grounder. Spencer Levine followed with an RBI single two batters later to give the Royals a 3-0 lead.

New Market got a run back in the top of the third inning, when singles by Bowen McGuffin and Chase DeMars sandwiched a Winchester error to load the bases before Royals starter John Lollar dealt a walk to John Cable after a nine-pitch at-bat to plate the Rebels’ lone run.

The Rebels failed to find the key hit against Winchester pitching, as they stranded seven baserunners in the loss, including six in scoring position.

“We want our guys to be aggressive. You can’t have it both ways, you can’t tell them to be aggressive and then when we don’t get good swings in the count say, ‘Oh don’t be aggressive,'” Cole said. “You’d like to see us maybe take a pitch or two there and see if we can’t get something a little bit better than swinging at something down in the zone or maybe something that’s borderline or not even a strike. A little disappointing but we try to be aggressive and it’s worked for us most of the year offensively.”

Despite the Rebels’ struggles on the mound, Winchester went four innings without a hit until Koos’ leadoff double in the seventh inning off New Market reliever Dustin Lander, the first of three straight hits in the frame that culminated in a run on Pete Rivera’s RBI double for a 4-1 lead.

Lander tossed four innings for New Market while allowing three hits, an earned run and two walks while striking out one.

“Lander did a good job. I mean he gave us a chance and threw up some zeroes, gave us a chance to score and get back in it but we just couldn’t get anything going,” Cole said. “Their starter did a good job, kept us off-balance and mixed up his pitches, so congrats to them.”

Winchester added to its lead with two more runs in the bottom of the eighth, one on Derek Gibree’s RBI double off Brandon Liskey and the other on Rivera’s bases-loaded walk dealt by Max Ryan.

Donovan was the lone Rebel to pick up multiple hits in the loss, as he went 2-for-4 with two doubles.

Lollar got the win after tossing six innings while allowing an unearned run on four hits, a walk and two strikeouts. Sherando High School graduate and Shepherd University senior left-hander John Bentley tossed three scoreless innings of relief for the Royals and allowed two hits while striking out five.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com