WOODSTOCK - For the second time this week, Central’s baseball team had to rally for a victory.
On Wednesday, the Falcons used a walk-off walk to pull out a 7-6 non-district win over Shenandoah County rival Stonewall Jackson. The Falcons rallied from 5-1 down against Skyline on Monday.
The Falcons scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh Wednesday without getting a hit. They drew three walks and took advantage of a hit batsman and an error.
With the bases loaded and the game tied 6-6 in the bottom of the seventh, Central’s Chase Helsley was at the plate and he said he wanted to have a good approach.
“I was just trying to stay calm,” Helsley said. “And make sure I didn’t swing at anything too high or too low. And I was just trying to stay focused on what needs to be done and get the win for everybody.”
As Helsley took the fourth ball high and outside from Stonewall Jackson relief pitcher Austin Ritchie, Helsley said it was a great feeling as he and his teammates celebrated.
“It was just a sigh of relief,” Helsey said. “And it just made me feel so great that we came from down 1-4 and came back all the way and pushed through. It was just an amazing win for everybody.”
Austin Ritchie had looked sharp in his first inning of relief in the sixth inning but things changed in the bottom of the seventh. Central’s John French was hit by a pitch, Kelan Hoover reached on an error and Gregory Bartol walked to load the bases with no outs. Logan Yew then drew a walk to score French and tie the game, setting up Helsey’s walk-off walk.
Center fielder Helsley, who also made a diving catch in the fifth inning, made a big impact in the top of the seventh with his defense.
With the Generals clinging to a 6-5 lead in the top of the seventh, Griffin Proctor doubled off Yew to start the inning. Stonewall Jackson freshman Jaden Click hit a ball deep to right-center field, which Helsley caught. Helsley spun around and threw to Central third baseman Sam Shifflett, who caught the ball on the fly and tagged out Click, who had tagged up from second base, for the double play.
“I knew there was someone on second tagging up,” Helsey said. “So I just caught the ball and slung it to third. And I just hit it on the money. ...I was hyped up after that. I was just glad I got the out.”
Ritchie followed the double play with a double, but was left stranded on second as the Falcons kept the lead to just one run.
“That was a momentum swing play,” Central coach Sean Semones said of Helsley’s throw. “That could have potentially been a two-run lead instead of a one-run lead. He cut that inning down and we ended up getting out of it with no runs.”
The Falcons started things off with a run in the bottom of the first. Central’s Silas Ruhling singled off Stonewall Jackson starting pitcher Tyler Dellinger. Ruhling moved to second on Michael French’s groundout. With two outs, an RBI single by John French gave Central a 1-0 lead.
The Generals responded with a run in the top of the second. Click drew a one-out walk off Central starting pitcher Hoover. Click went to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single by Ritchie.
The Generals took the lead in the top of the third. With one out, Logan Ritchie singled. Central’s Sam Shifflett relieved Hoover on the mound.
Stonewall Jackson freshman Adrian Chaparro-Vann singled and Dellinger followed with an RBI single to give the Generals a 2-1 edge.
The Generals (0-1) stretched the lead in the top of the fourth. Click singled and Austin Ritchie followed with a single. A throwing error on Austin Ritchie’s single allowed Click to score for a 3-1 advantage.
A balk by Shifflett moved Austin Ritchie to third and he scored on another error for a 4-1 lead.
The Falcons (2-0) used a four-run fifth inning to take the lead with only one hit. Michael French started the inning off by reaching on a dropped third strike against Stonewall Jackson relief pitcher Nicholas Foltz. The Generals had four errors in the innings and walked two batters to give Central a 5-4 lead.
It was the season opener for the Generals. Stonewall Jackson coach Jeremy Knight said that his team did not have any scrimmages, and it showed at times.
“It’s a tough one to lose - first game of the year - especially to a rival,” Knight said. “But in the grand scheme of things you get to see a lot of stuff that I would have seen with a scrimmage or two. Guys got in high pressure situations. Some stepped up, some did not.”
Knight said he was happy with how his team came back after giving up the three-run lead.
The Generals scored two runs in the top of the sixth to take a 6-5 advantage. Matthew Showman and Brayden Hovatter led off with back-to-back walks against Yew. Both runs scored on a fielder’s choice and an error on a ground ball hit by Logan Ritchie.
The Generals had 10 hits, led by Austin Ritchie with three. Knight said he was pleased with the way his team played offensively.
“Being our first game of the year, I thought that overall we played well,” Knight said. “We booted it around in the field, which unfortunately, is a little bit expected at the first game of the year. But where we really shined was at the plate. We hit the ball hard. We hit the ball well. We hit the ball in big spots.”
Central was led offensively by Ruhling with a double and a single. The Falcons have drawn 24 walks in their first two games, nine of which came against Stonewall Jackson.
Semones said he’s happy that his team has also shown the ability to come from behind.
“That shows our mentality,” Semones said. “That shows our team is not going to give up. That shows how strong we are. I always preach to them the greatest thing about baseball is that it’s not a time sport. It’s never over until the final out. And I keep preaching that to these boys. And we just persevere and we move forward and never give up.”