STRASBURG – Strasburg couldn’t have asked for a much worse start to its Region 2B baseball semifinal game with Stuarts Draft on Wednesday.
The Rams committed three errors, leading to a five-run first inning in an eventual 17-3 loss to the Cougars. The win sends the Cougars to the Class 2 state tournament. The Rams finished with six errors in the game.
“You just can’t have the errors – and it just snowballed,” Strasburg coach Joe Bauserman said. “(Strasburg sophomore starting pitcher) Sean (McKinley) has thrown well for us in the past, but when you don’t have the help behind you it’s tough to do. And then they’re a good ball club – no doubt about it.”
Stuarts Draft’s Aric Gutt was hit by a pitch to start the game. He stole second and scored on an RBI double by Henry Cooke.
With one out, Strasburg committed the first of its three errors of the inning to put runners on first and third.
Stuarts Draft’s Dawson Jones’ RBI single made it 2-0. Trip Christian was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. Another error scored two runs for a 4-0 lead.
A sacrifice fly RBI by Dustyn Fitzgerald made it 5-0.
“We just had a ton of errors and once you start booting the ball around, it’s tough to fight back from it,” Strasburg junior catcher Corey Keller said. “...I thought we were all loose (before the game), but once they started getting a couple hits and after the first error happened it just went downhill from there.”
The Rams (13-11) cut the lead to 5-1 in the bottom of the second but had an opportunity for more. Strasburg’s Alec Campbell reached on an error and Collin Reynolds and Patchrick Kennedy were hit by a pitch from Stuarts Draft starting pitcher Mark Rodgers.
With one out, Trey Stinnette was hit by a pitch to score Campbell, but the Rams hit into a double play to end the inning with just one run.
The Cougars (14-7) put the game away with a seven-run third inning. The Rams had two more errors and two walks to go with four Stuarts Draft hits.
One bright spot for the Rams was Keller, who went 3-for-4 at the plate with one RBI.
“I just looked fastball, and looked to drive it the other way and stay disciplined at the plate,” Keller said.
Bauserman said jitters may have gotten the best of his young squad, which has only one senior.
Stuarts Draft was led at the plate by Gutt who went 2-for-3, four RBI’s and three runs scored. Cooke went 2-for-4 with three RBI’s and one run scored and Jones was 2-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
The Cougars play at Page County at 6 p.m. today in the Region 2B final.
Strasburg’s Chris Shelton went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
The youthful Rams overcame adversity when two of their top pitchers went down with injuries late in the season. The Rams fought through it and won five straight games, including the Bull Run District tournament title.
“You just try and get better, and toward the end, I think that’s what we did,” Bauserman said. “We lost a couple guys, which really hurt us. I’m just so proud of the guys for just plugging along when they could have packed it in. They just continued, and it was great to see.”
Keller said he thinks the late-season success will carry over into the offseason and next year.
“We’re confident,” he said. “We’re only losing one senior Cameron (Harmon). He contributed a lot for us. But we feel like if we play hard over the offseason, we can come back and possibly win another district championship and get back here.”