CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Front Royal Cardinals (20-23) came to Charlottesville to face the Tom Sox (27-14), who were seeking to finish strong as the postseason approaches. The ‘Sox were able to prevail 6-5 in a back-and-forth decision, extending their win streak to three games.
Zach Mack (San Jacinto) was able to start strong with a 1-2-3 inning, setting up the ‘Sox offense to strike first.
That offense, which scored 20 runs over the doubleheader yesterday (July 25) through 14 innings to secure the sweep over the Woodstock River Bandits, ignited their bats. Brice Martinez (Wofford) started things off with a double in the second slot of the batting order, which set up Aidan Teel (Virginia) for a two-run bomb into right field – with a bat flip added for good measure.
Gabriel Moorer’s rocky start for the Front Royal Cardinals persisted, posing an advantage to the Tom Sox. Brady Gumpf (Notre Dame) secured an infield single after Henry Ford (Virginia) drew a walk, setting up Kalvin Alexander (Georgia Southwestern) in an ideal situation with two outs. Moorer, however, was able to get out of the jam by getting him to strike out looking.
Mack surrendered his first damage in the second. A pair of Cardinals reached base to set up 9-hole hitter Samuel Barber, who knocked a single into the right-center gap to score two and give Front Royal an equalizer.
The Sox introduced a new pitcher in the top of the third inning when two-way star Chris Arroyo (Florida) was called upon. Aside from giving up a walk, Arroyo started his stint on autopilot, and the score remained knotted going into the bottom of the third.
Charlottesville threatened again in the bottom of the third. Aidan Teel reached base for the second time in as many at-bats, this time on a walk. This allowed Nathan Fink (Florida Southwestern) to hammer a ball that caused a good grab at the left field warning track, only a few feet shy from the Tom Sox’s second two-run homer of the day.
Front Royal was able to jump on Arroyo in the fourth, taking the lead for the first time. Three-straight hitters reached base to begin the inning, as a double, walk, and single loaded the bases. A walk to the leadoff hitter Nick Capozzi brought in one, and a sacrifice fly brought in run number two. Kam Douglas threatened with a single, but Arroyo got the final batter of the inning to fly out and keep it at a two-run deficit.
The ‘Sox looked worse for the wear in the fourth before some small ball allowed them to fire back. Both Kyle Edwards (Old Dominion) and Martinez laid down successful bunt singles, and Edwards even managed to steal third base with runners on the corners for star Aidan Teel. With Teel at the plate, the ‘Sox tried to pull a double steal which tricked the Cardinals. Martinez got caught in a rundown, which allowed Edwards to trot home, and Martinez used his speed to dive back into first without a tag.
Arroyo gave way to Lucas Cash (Wake Tech CC) in the top of the fifth, who took the mound for his second appearance in as many days. Arroyo completed his day with a pair of earned runs, three hits, three walks, and one strikeout across two innings. Cash set down three of the four batters he faced to give possession back to the ‘Sox offense.
That offense would tack on one more run in each of the next three innings. Connor Hincks singled to lead off the fifth and was followed by a barrel from Ford, who hit a double into the left-center gap to put two in scoring position with none away. The next batter, Gumpf, hit a sacrifice bunt to score Hincks and tie the game back up. With Ford at third, the Tom Sox were threatening for more, but Moorer got Garrett Spikes (Georgia) to fly out to end it.
The sixth was completed much on the basepaths. Edwards started the bottom of the sixth with a walk and stole second, getting in scoring position for the second time in as many at-bats. He was able to make it to third on a passed ball by ‘Cards catcher Robert Mozeley and took the lead on a sacrifice fly from Teel which made it 5-4.
Charlottesville scored their final run of the day in the seventh. Ford hit his third home run of the season, a no-doubt shot to left field, to give the ‘Sox a two-run lead and make the score 6-4. Ford’s homer marked his second in as many days after homering to a similar spot in game one of Monday’s doubleheader.
The Cardinals put across one more in the eighth to bring the game within one. Back-to-back walks put runners on first and second with no one away, and leadoff batter Drew Camp made it to third on a fielder’s choice to put men on the corners with one out. Barber collected his third RBI on the day with a groundout to shortstop to score Camp and make it 6-5.
That was the only run surrendered in five strong innings from Lucas Cash, who put the team on his back in a tough spot. After pitching yesterday, Cash was asked to pitch on less than 24 hours rest. Amazingly, he managed to have three 1-2-3 innings, give up just one run, and maintain the momentum for the Tom Sox throughout. Possibly most importantly, too, he was able to keep the ‘Sox from having to use more bullpen arms during a stretch of seven games in four days.
The Tom Sox will travel to face Purcellville tomorrow for their final two regular season games. First pitch for the first game will be at 4 p.m.
The Tom Sox finish the season series against the Cardinals with a 3-1 advantage, the lone loss coming in the first game at Bing Crosby Stadium. All four games were decided by three or fewer runs.
The Tom Sox have hit 18 home runs in 23 July games after hitting just five over 18 games in June.
Charlottesville captured their 14th come-from-behind victory of the season.