Braves Take Down Tom Sox, 3-1
A two-RBI home run from the Staunton Braves shattered a Friday night pitchers’ duel at C-VILLE Weekly Ballpark, giving the visitors a 2-0 lead in the top of the sixth that would stand as the eventual game-winner as the Braves (15-15) downed the Tom Sox (17-14), 3-1.
Hunter McMullen started out on the mound for the Tom Sox, allowing one walk and three hits but holding the Braves off the board with five strikeouts in four innings. Meanwhile, the Tom Sox were similarly stymied by Staunton’s starting pitcher. Charlottesville threatened early, loading the bases on two walks and a single from Kirby McMullen in the second, but Cooperman shut down the surge with a strikeout and then forced the Tom Sox through quick three-batter at-bats in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
Jared Gaer made his debut for the Tom Sox in the fifth frame, forcing the Braves down in order and pitching a strikeout to close out the frame. But Charlottesville ran into trouble in the top of the sixth, when Brett Willett connected with a pitch from Jake Hershman to blast a home run over the left-field fence, sending two runners home and putting the Braves ahead, 2-0. The seventh brought more trouble for the home team, as Cole Swiger got on base on an error, then sprinted to third as a failed pick-off attempt sailed into the Tom Sox dugout. Reagan Wright then scored Swiger on a single. With runners still threatening on second and third, Hershman forced the Braves to strand a pair as he closed out the frame, but Staunton headed into the seventh-inning stretch holding onto a 3-0 lead.
The Tom Sox got onto the board in the bottom of the eighth as Zac Ching put a two-out RBI single to left field, scoring Nick DiPonzio and cutting the Braves’ lead to 3-1. Buoyed by Hershman running through six batters and striking out three in the final two frames, the Tom Sox found some offense in the bottom of the ninth, as Kirby McMullen struck a two-out double before advancing to third on an error. But the Tom Sox couldn’t push him home and would fall to the Braves, 3-1.
With the loss, the Tom Sox record goes to 17-14 on the season and 8-10 in the division. They’ll look to get back in the win column as they continue a four-game homestand on Saturday at C-VILLE Weekly Ballpark.