STRASBURG — The Strasburg Express have had a solid first half of the Valley Baseball League season.

The Express improved to 14-7 on Monday night with a 9-8 13-inning victory over Front Royal. The Express rallied from a 6-1 deficit to pick up the win.

One key to the team’s success has been their depth, which showed on Monday as six of the nine hitters were substituted for and four different pitchers were used.

“We’ve really prided ourselves in making sure it’s the next man up,” Strasburg head coach George Laase said. “Everybody rolling, having a piece of the pie to the party. And it’s a different guy almost every day. We’ve had some hitters get hot, but pitching has risen up to the challenge. The bullpen has really stepped up.”

The Express are fourth in team ERA (4.00). On Monday they had a strong performance from the bullpen, allowing just two runs in 10 innings of work.

In the win against Front Royal, Crawford Wade (Wake Forest), Dalton Skinner (Winthrop) and Ryan Ammons (Clemson) finished off the game on the mound for the Express.

Strasburg’s starters have also been strong, led by Donovan Burke (JMU), who is 2-2 with a 3.43 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 18.1 innings. Trevor Sharp (WVU) is 2-1 with a 4.76 ERA in 17 innings.

Laase said Spotswood High School graduate Daniel Ouderkirk (WVU) was scheduled to start against Woodstock on Tuesday.

“Dan has really gotten after it the last couple starts,” Lasse said. “And it’s great to see local kids do well.”

Offensively, the Express started off strong this season, but have been a little up and down lately. They are batting .247 as a team and have 23 homers and 116 RBIs.

They have been led by Ryan Galanie (Wofford), who has five homers, 12 RBIs and a .355 batting average (22-for-62). Tripp McKinlay (St. Johns River State College) is hitting .314 (16-for-51) with six RBIs.

Leadoff hitter Brayton Brown (Auburn) is batting .307 (23-for-75) with five homers and 19 RBIs. Brown had the walk-off single in the 13th to win the game on Monday.

“He’s been a guy that’s been on fire the last couple weeks,” Laase said. “So when we had first and second (in the 13th) we didn’t want to take the bat out of his hands, because we could score from second base on a base hit.”

Laase, who has been coaching in the league for 12 years, said he’s very happy with the team’s chemistry.

“This team has gotten closer quicker than anybody that I’ve been a part of, and part of that is the universal language of baseball,” Laase said. “Plus they’re just good character guys. That’s a tribute to their coaches, their programs and their families. And to themselves for making the right decisions. For wanting to do the right thing. And when you get a like-minded group of individuals around it creates a very similar mission.”

The Express are in second place in the North Division, just two games behind first-place Woodstock.

Laase said the biggest thing he wants his team to work on is being more consistent on offense.

“We have to attack the strikes,” Laase said. “Don’t fall behind in the counts. I’d like to see a little bit more aggressiveness at the plate. And probably when you get to this part of the season guys are tired and can get sloppy on the base paths, because you can win games by that aspect. If you run the bases right and run it hard you can put yourself in scoring position, or a bloop and a blast and you’re up on the scoreboard.”

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