FRONT ROYAL, Va – The Charlottesville Tom Sox (5-4) faced the Front Royal Cardinals (4-5) Sunday at Bing Crosby Stadium, scoring three runs in the ninth but ultimately falling 9-6. Charlottesville entered the game looking to come back from Saturday night’s loss and to continue their consecutive 6-game win streak against the Cardinals, but ultimately fell three runs short and lost their first road game of the young season.
Charlottesville wasted no time to start their momentum with two players on base in the top of the first. They struck first after Justin Thomas (Georgia) reached on a hit by pitch, then later ran home on a wild pitch by Cardinals starter Cole Schiff. Defense for the ‘Sox also found early success with a double play after Front Royal’s 2-hole hitter reached base on a single.
Both teams were held at bay when they entered the batter’s box for the next two innings, as the game became a pitcher’s duel between Mark Perkins (Rice) and Schiff. Perkins finished his night tossing three scoreless, one-hit innings, striking out five and walking a pair.
The Cardinals had been struggling to find their way around the bases until Eli Burwash instantly gave them the lead with a 2-run homer hit over the left field wall in the bottom of the fourth off of new ‘Sox pitcher Jeremy Goins (Tampa). He was able to limit the damage in the inning beyond the home run, though, striking out the side to head into the fifth down one.
Bats started to heat up in the fifth for Charlottesville as Thomas hit a ground-rule double to left field, which brought Sergio Rivera (Florida SW) home to tie the game. Hollis Porter (Mississippi State) then grounded out but allowed Thomas to advance to third to put him in scoring position. Catcher Jake Bennett (San Jacinto) stepped up to the plate and hit the ball deep into center field, initially looking like a hit but ultimately being robbed by center fielder Blaze OSaben, who made an impressive recovery after initially miscalculating the depth of the hit.
Goins made the trip to the mound for his second inning of work in the fifth, but his efforts were less successful than the previous frame. He struck out two batters, but also walked two before giving way to former Pasco-Hernando teammate Davian Garcia. His work on the mound was as unsuccessful, as he let up two runs on a walk and hit batsman before Jaden Anderson stepped up to the plate. Anderson was able to get ahold of a fastball from Garcia and knock it over the left field wall for a grand slam. Garcia struck out Devin Colon to end the inning, but damage was already done in the form of a six-run inning which gave Front Royal an 8-2 lead.
Charlottesville struggled at the plate and the top of the sixth was quickly stopped by the Cardinal defense, who were able to double David Wiley off first on a double play after walking him earlier in the inning. However, the ‘Sox fought back with their own defense. They managed one out after the other with two plays made by second basemen Josh Tate (Georgia), who caught a foul ball down the right field baseline and fielded a grounder to throw out the runner at first. The third out was executed by third basemen Brice Martinez (Wofford) as he threw another runner out at first as well.
Charlottesville’s bats seemed to wake up a bit in the seventh, with three runners reaching base. Kyle Edwards (Old Dominion) led off the inning with a six-pitch walk, then Martinez hit an RBI single three batters later to bring him across the plate. Porter drew a walk to put two on with two outs, but Cardinals pitcher Dallas Hairfield was able to induce a popup from Jake Bennett to end any chance at more.
Front Royal was able to get the run back as quick as they ceded it in the bottom half of the frame. After striking out the opening batter of the frame, reliever Brett Allen (VCU) hit Burwash to put one on with one out. After two successive stolen bases, the Cardinals brought it back to a six-run lead after an RBI sacrifice fly.
The Sox were quickly shut down at the plate in the eighth and then returned back out to the field for the bottom half with Braden Halladay (High Point) on the mound. They executed a fast half inning, allowing no more runs for the Cardinals and giving them one more chance at a miracle comeback.
That effort began with a leadoff single from Edwards, who was able to reach second on a wild pitch then score on a 2-base error by catcher Brock Mercado. The next batter, Rivera, reached on a walk and was able to score soon after on a second error by Mercado, giving Charlottesville two runs back. The rally kept going as Martinez walked, reached second on the error, then scored on an RBI single by Shane Stossel (Lebanon Valley) to make it a three-run game. While morale was improving in the ‘Sox dugout after a three-run inning, the Cardinals quickly put it to bed after getting Wiley to line out and end the game.
The Tom Sox will return home to CHO Airport Field Tuesday night for a 7 P.M. game against the Strasburg Express.
Martinez and Edwards both reached base three times on the night, Martinez doing so on a pair of walks and a single and Edwards on a fielder’s choice, walk, and ninth-inning single.
Charlottesville suffered their first loss after out-hitting their opponent, having previously been 5-0 on the year. They lost their second game after scoring the game’s first run, the first being the season opener.
The grand slam allowed to Anderson was the first allowed by the ‘Sox since July 2, 2022, when Covington’s Nate Stocum hit one at Charlottesville High School as part of a 7-6 Lumberjacks win.
Charlottesville batted 3-for-18 (.167) with runners in scoring position, including 0-for-2 with a runner on third and less than two outs.
Six of the nine Front Royal runs scored with two outs, including the aforementioned grand slam. The slam was Front Royal’s only opportunity with the bases loaded on the night.