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@ Covington Lumberjacks 4 – Tom Sox 3 (L)
June 16 @ 7:00 pm
Tom Sox Fall in Ten Innings at Covington in Battle of the Bullpens
By: Zach Hamilton
The Covington Lumberjacks (8-3) were able to chop down the Tom Sox (7-3) and their division lead on Saturday night by walking it off 4-3 in ten innings. In a game that featured early hitting and scoring, it quickly turned into a bullpen, pitcher’s duel. Hunter Gregory shined for Charlottesville with four innings of relief, giving up no hits and striking out three. Both Patrick McColl and Zac Ching extend their hitting streaks to ten and eight games respectively for the Tom Sox. Covington’s Eric Jones provided the winning RBI in the tenth on a sac-fly that scored Ryan Fitzgerald.
Centerfielder Jack Morris led-off the ballgame with a single to centerfield off of Lumberjacks starter McCae Allen, but was stranded at second base. Covington’s offense came out swinging against Tom Sox starter Nick Roth in the first. Fitzgerald and Jones started the frame with back-to-back singles and Fitzgerald later came around to plate the contest’s first run on a RBI-double by J.C. Santos.
Charlottesville answered back, loud and clear, in the top of the seconding. Anthony Lazar got it started with a single and then Nick DiPonzio followed up with a double off the rightfield wall to put runners on second and third with no outs. UVA’s Will Allocca hit a hard ground ball to second bases that scored Lazar. With one out, Max Bazin kept the line moving with a groundout to first that scored the go ahead run to make it a 2-1 ballgame. The Lumberjacks found a way to counter in the bottom half of the inning against Roth. Benny Serrano turned up safe on a fielder’s choice and after stealing a base, scored on an RBI-single by Bennett Hostettler.
Another leadoff base runner for the Tom Sox turned into a run in the third. Zac Ching reached safely on a single and later scored with one out on a single by Dom D’Alessandro. With his team in front 3-2, Nick Roth settled in and got a three-up, three-down inning in the bottom of third. Allen settled in too and put the Tom Sox down in order to start the fourth. Covington’s Trevor Rogers changed the whole complexion of the night with one swing of the bat. He drove a ball right down the rightfield line that barely cleared the foul pole for a solo homerun.
In a now tied 3-3 contest, the scoring suddenly disappeared for both lineups. Hunter Gregory came out of the bullpen for the Tom Sox in relief of Roth. The Old Dominion right-hander kept the Lumberjack’s off the base paths entirely, except for one hit-by-pitch in the seventh inning. Covington’s Allen was able to work around a few runners in scoring position and finished a strong outing of six innings and four strikeouts. For the Lumberjacks’ Derek Tremblay came on in relief of Allen and did not give up a hit over three innings, while walking three.
The tenth inning came around fast and Chase Best threw another three-up, three-down inning for Covington. In the bottom of the tenth, Evan Justice, who was in his second inning of work, hit Ryan Fitzgerald with an inside fastball. Fitzgerald stole second base and the throw from Will Allocca went into centerfield, allowing the runner to move to third base. Second baseman, Eric Jones came to the plate only needing a sac-fly to end it and he sent one high and deep enough to score the walk-off run to make it a 4-3 final.
Chase Best (1-2) picked up the win with a scoreless frame in the tenth, while Evan Justice falls to 0-1 on the summer. Covington’s win puts them in the driver’s seat in the south division at 8-3, while Charlottesville falls a game behind the Lumberjacks at 7-3. The Tom Sox return home to C-Ville Weekly Ballpark on Sunday night to host the Harrisonburg Turks for the second time in four days at 7pm. Covington remains home at Casey Field to host Winchester for a double-header beginning at 6pm on Sunday night.
Zach Hamilton is a rising Senior at George Mason University and sports broadcaster interning with the Tom Sox this summer.