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Posted June 17, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Hunt's home run carries River Bandits to win

By Dennis Atwood -- sports@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- One swing of the bat accounted for all the scoring as two starting left-handed pitchers dueled for seven innings, each giving up five hits, and the Woodstock River Bandits took a 1-0 squeaker over the New Market Rebels on Tuesday night.

It was the second of back-to-back games for the Central Division rivals in what has become known in the league as "The Battle of I-81," with the Rebels taking the first game, 7-2, at home last night.

River Bandits second baseman Stephen Hunt, a University of South Florida sophomore, led off the fourth inning, and whacked Garrett Baker's first pitch just over the fence inside the right-field foul pole, for the game's only run. It was only the second hit off Baker, the other being Derek Vigoa's lead-off single in the first inning.

"I wasn't even watching the hit, I was just trying to get to third as quick as I could," Hunt said. "I saw the second baseman put up his hands, so I thought maybe it was a ground-rule double because it took the umpire a long time to signal it was a homer."

Low pitch counts, by both pitchers enabled them to pitch deep in the game. McElroy had thrown 97, and Baker 91, when they were relieved.

"It was a good bounce-back from last night. We didn't play that well last night and lost our composure a little bit," Woodstock head coach Donn Foltz said. "Tonight the guys were focused and Jonathan [McElroy] did a great job after his short outing last time. He was confident and composed and gave us seven solid innings. It was a quality game."

New Market (2-6, 1-3 Central) did better with extra-base hits, as four of their first five hits were doubles, by Zach Helgeson, Richard Gonzalez, Zak Messer and Sanchez Gartman. However, each of them were stranded in place as McElroy retired all eight batters in a row after the doubles.

McElroy, a Davis and Elkins College freshman, was working with just-arrived catcher Michael Benton, from UC-San Diego, and yielded five hits, struck out four, and issued no walks in gaining the win in his first Valley League decision.

"I wanted to go out and command my fastball because in my first appearance I didn't command any of them well, but that game got rained out," said McElroy. "I commanded all three well tonight and that led to a lot of outs. They can hit as many doubles as they want, as long as they don't get another hit after that. And I had only tonight's warm-up to work with the new catcher. He's a great catcher and did a fantastic job behind the dish."

Baker gave up five hits, one run, struck out six, issued no walks and hit a batter in taking the tough loss as his first decision of the season.

"Last night we were able to get the big hits and tonight we weren't," Rebels head coach Lucas Jones said. "We had a phenomenal start from Garrett [Baker] -- you could not dream up a better starter if you were trying to map out a game. We haven't been able to put a complete game together, that's the frustrating part. We haven't been able to put the hitting, pitching, and fielding together, and that's why we're 2-6.

"I told Garrett the home run pitch wasn't a mistake, it was a fastball in and [Hunt] just turned it on him, and you have to give the kid credit."

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