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Posted July 30, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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River Bandits clinch spot in VBL playoffs

By Jerry Holsworth -- sports@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- Despite one bad inning, Woodstock dominated Luray on Wednesday, defeating the Wranglers 7-5 and securing the River Bandits a spot in the upcoming Valley Baseball League playoffs.

"We had one inning of gray hairs and the rest of the game our guys did a great job," Woodstock manager Donn Foltz said. "Corey Witkowski was phenomenal on the mound as our starting pitcher, and our hitters gave us the runs we needed. This is a good time to be peaking."

Witkowski played six flawless innings on the mound for the River Bandits, scattering three hits and holding the Wranglers scoreless.

It was that seventh inning that caused all of the gray hairs. With Woodstock leading 5-0, the Barry University freshman gave up three hits to start the inning, including a two-run homer by Luray catcher Alex Haituka. Another single by Drew Martinez forced Foltz to go to the bullpen for Doug Wagner.

"Wagner came in and did just what we asked him to do," Foltz said. "We just didn't play very well behind him."

With one out in the seventh, the South Florida sophomore got the Wranglers to hit grounders four straight times only to watch his teammates commit four straight errors. The result was a 5-5 tie heading into the bottom of the seventh.

"We didn't panic after that," Woodstock centerfielder Stephen Hunt said. "We're pretty loose most of the time as a team. We play hard and try to have fun doing it. We also knew that we were hitting the ball well."

Hunt had good reason to feel confident. The South Florida sophomore finished the night 3-for-4 with three RBIs, including a two-run homer over the rightfield fence in the second inning.

The River Bandits immediately went to work in the bottom of the seventh and got the lead back. Michael Benton led off the inning with a walk, and Derek Vigoa sacrificed him to second putting him in scoring position. With Cory Tilton running for Benton, Gerando Careres drew another walk to put the River Bandits on first and second with one out.

A double to right by Evan Kehoe scored Tilton and moved Careres to third. Matt Blow drove home Careres with a grounder to second, putting Woodstock back on top 7-5.

Relievers Daniel Lazzaroni and Guido Knudson took care of the Wranglers over the next two innings to seal the win.

"Wagner, Lazzaroni and Knudson were all outstanding in relief," Foltz said. "Relief pitching has been one of our strengths throughout the season."

Adrian Puig took the loss for the Wranglers, allowing six runs on seven hits through 6 1/3 innings.

"We just didn't come to play tonight," Luray manager Mike Bocock said. "I didn't think that we played at all in the first five or six innings. We came back to tie the game, but we couldn't hold it. We just didn't play with enough energy to win the game."

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