STRASBURG — Momentum played a big part in Strasburg’s baseball win over Stonewall Jackson on Monday.
After the Rams got out of a big jam in the top of the third, they took the momentum and didn’t let go of it in a 5-0 non-district victory.
“Momentum in baseball is just huge,” Strasburg coach Joe Bauserman said. “Momentum is just crazy. What we haven’t learned is to get that momentum and keep that momentum. And tonight we learned that a little bit.”
Strasburg starting pitcher Trevor Sager found himself in quite a jam in the top of the third.
Stonewall Jackson loaded the bases with no outs with three straight singles by Brayden Hovatter, Jaden Click and Logan Ritchie.
Sager induced Austin Ritchie to fly out to shallow center to keep the bases loaded with one out. Sager then struck out Nick Foltz and Chase Streett to end the threat.
“I just had to stay tough,” Sager said. “And just not really worrying about the runners so much, worrying about I got to get this guy (at the plate) out. I got to get it get a soft groundball where it’s an easy play where we can make a look at the runner at third. Or just get something somewhere to where it’s hard for them to get on a base or get a run scored.”
While getting out of the jam gave the Rams momentum, it deflated the Generals, who also failed to score in the first inning when they had runners on second and third with one out.
“If we put up four or five runs there (in those two innings), it’s a whole different ballgame,” Stonewall Jackson coach Jeremy Knight said. “It gave them momentum. It took any momentum away from us.”
In the bottom of the third, the Rams took advantage of two Generals’ errors and strung together a few timely hits to score four runs.
Strasburg’s Chris Shelton led off the inning with a single against Stonewall Jackson starting pitcher Jaden Click. Trey Stinnette reached on an error. Both runners stole a base and scored on a single by Cameron Harmon and another Generals’ error.
Sager then hit an RBI single to give the Rams a 3-0 advantage.
“I was thinking I want to get the bat on the ball — make something happen,” Sager said. “...I just knew I had to get the bat on the ball and that’s what I did.”
A Collin Reynolds’ RBI single later in the inning stretched the lead to 4-0.
Corey Keller added an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth for a 5-0 lead.
That was more than enough for Sager, who pitched a complete game and allowed just six hits. Sager struck out nine and walked one.
“(Stonewall Jackson) had been playing good ball. They had beaten some good teams,” Bauserman said. “They hit the ball well. And (Sager) came in here and he let the defense work a little bit. He had all three pitches going. When he can locate all three of them he’s going to be tough.”
Sager said he felt confident on the mound against the Generals.
“I was sort of hitting my spots,” he said. “I felt really good. I felt like I was throwing hard. When you’re feeling good you just keep going with what’s working.”
The Generals (5-5) left nine on base against the Rams. Knight said his team didn’t have the right approach at the plate.
“Right now we’re on a downward turn with our hitting,” Knight said. “We had six hits tonight. Sager threw well. We chased a lot of curveballs in the dirt for some reason. He threw well, we had more strikeouts than I thought we would. But our approach was all over the place. We didn’t have the right approach at the plate.”
Knight said he was pleased with how Click pitched. Click threw a complete game, allowing eight hits and had four strikeouts.
Hovatter and Logan Ritchie each had two hits to lead the Generals.
Stonewall Jackson, the Class 1 state runners-up two years ago, was coming off back-to-back wins over Stuarts Draft and East Rockingham. Knight said he wants his team to be more consistent.
“Consistency right now is what I’m preaching,” he said. “This is our halfway point. We’re halfway through the season. We’re 5-5 — we could easily be 7-3 with a couple of plays early (in the season). I’m not too terribly disappointed with where we are. But we’ve got to tighten up over this second half of the season, down the stretch. We got to get those hits if we’re going to get back to a state championship (game). We’ve got to have those. We’ve got to score. We’ve got to put pressure on teams”
Sager led the Rams with three hits.
Strasburg (5-5) plays at Bull Run District rival Clarke County on Thursday.
“Clarke’s tough, they’re scrappy,” Bauserman said. “They’ve got guys that have played a lot of baseball for them. They’ve got a lot of returners. So I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a good ballgame. And I hope the guys are ready for the challenge.”