The 2017 VBL campaign came to a fitting end, as the Charlottesville Tom Sox won one of the most exciting games of the season 2-1 over visiting Strasburg.
In front of a huge crowd of 2,154 fans for the do-or-die championship game, the two teams combined to strand 27 runners in a tense matchup.
The winning run came in the bottom of the eighth, as Michael DeRenzi’s grounder took a high hop that carried it just barely out of the reach of both middle infielders, scoring Michael Wielansky from second base.
Strasburg put two runners on with just one out in the ninth, but couldn’t capitalize as winning pitcher Rick Spiers (2.2 shutout innings) gloved a comebacker for the championship out.
Each team had the bases loaded back-to-back with one out and the league’s top two MVP vote getters up to bat, and neither could score.
Strasburg starter Dylan Hall was relieved in the sixth and Charlottesville loaded the bases with Wielansky batting and just one out. The Express made the forceout at home however, and a hard liner by Vinnie Pasquantino was caught on the run by centerfielder Jacob Hirsh.
The Express then loaded the bases with one out for Brandon Quaranta, who also grounded into a forceout. The next batter lined one off Spiers’ glove, but shortstop Bryce Windham hustled to make the play at first and keep it a 1-1 game.
Strasburg drew first blood in the third inning when Jake Perry singled in Turner Buis. Quaranta moved to third, but Windham fielded a tough grounder to make the final out and prevent the run from scoring.
The Express should have gotten out of the fourth inning, but a two-out error allowed Kyle Battle to score and even the contest at 1-1.
Hall went 5.1 innings for Strasburg with five strikeouts and just one run allowed. He did walk the bases loaded in the fifth, but rebounded to strike out Battle in three pitches to get out of the jam.
Charlottesville finishes the season with a sterling 38-11 overall record, but the Tom Sox were pushed all the way by two-time defending champions Strasburg, who finished 27-23 including postseason play.