Corbin’s Corner: Developments from a Dominant Week

Following rainouts on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Charlottesville Tom Sox won three of four ballgames over the weekend as they continue to look like one of the most dominant forces in the Valley League. Corbin Lathrop gives his observations in the latest Corbin's Corner.


Editor’s note: Corbin’s Corner is a weekly wrap-up column written by Tom Sox web editor & staff writer Corbin Lathrop.

Following rainouts on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Charlottesville Tom Sox (5-2) won three of four ballgames over the weekend as they continue to look like one of the most dominant forces in the Valley League.

Before falling to the Harrisonburg Turks on Sunday afternoon 12-8, the ‘Sox had reeled off five-straight victories during which they outscored their opponents by an astonishing 55 runs. Using a combination of their juggernaut offense and stretches of dominant pitching, the ‘Sox sit atop the South Division standings through two weeks of action.

As the ‘Sox settle into the season, here are four developments from week two of baseball in the Valley.



Roldan, Belyeu, and Lavey are looking like the VBL’s Murderer’s Row

Speaking of the offense, the heart of Charlottesville’s lineup — Tommy Roldan (Virginia), Cade Belyeu (Auburn), and Robbie Lavey (George Washington) — is doing its best ’27 Yankees impression to start the season.

The ‘Sox two through four hitters in the order own three of the top four batting averages in the VBL (Roldan t-2nd — .429; Belyeu t-2nd — .429; Lavey 4th — .423) and are causing nightmares for pitchers. With their ability to hit for both contact and power all while letting their at-bats come to them and happily taking their walks when opposing staffs try to nibble around the zone, Roldan, Belyeu, and Lavey have become a reliable engine driving the potent C’Ville offensive machine.

Roldan had an especially dominant week, going 6-for-11 with a double, triple, three walks, and three RBI. The 6’1 lefty is getting on base at a ridiculous .567 clip, setting the table for the ‘Sox power hitters down the lineup. Already a force at the plate, Roldan also made his pitching debut on Saturday in Waynesboro, tossing two solid innings to start things off in Charlottesville’s 16-1 seven-inning run-rule victory.

But no one in the VBL is mashing like Belyeu. The Auburn product was named Valley Baseball League South Division Player of the Week on Monday after two-hit performances on Thursday and Sunday and smacking his league-leading fourth home run of the season on Saturday.

Belyeu leads the VBL in home runs (4), slugging percentage (1.143), RBI (14), and runs (11). A model of consistency, Belyeu has an RBI in every game this season as he continues to do incredible damage out of the three-hole in the order.



The ‘Sox offense is pacing the VBL

It’s not just Roldan, Belyeu, and Lavey doing damage, however. Plain and simple, there’s not an offense in the Valley hotter than Charlottesville’s. The Tom Sox’s .313 team batting average is 31 points higher than the next closest offense in the Valley League and Charlottesville leads the league in runs scored, total bases, walks, and home runs despite the two rainouts putting them behind the eight ball in terms of total games played.

Notably, Ethan Gibson (Virginia Tech) leads the league in walks (11) and OBP (.613) and smacked the team’s first grand slam of the season on Saturday, while Johnnie Lopez (Seminole State) has a hit in six of seven games, doing exactly what Charlottesville needs out of their leadoff hitter.

The ‘Sox have yet to score fewer than eight runs in a game this season and they already have three run-rule victories through seven contests. For opposing pitching staffs, there’s just not much that can be done to stifle the ‘Sox right now.



The pitching staff is still finding its footing

The Tom Sox pitching staff has not been bad by any stretch of the imagination thus far. In fact, in all but two of Charlottesville’s seven ballgames it’s been flat-out dominant as the ‘Sox held their opponents to three runs or fewer in each contest across their five-game winning streak.

The staff struck out a season-high twelve Braves while tossing a one-hitter on Thursday against Staunton, struck out nine Cavaliers on Friday in Culpeper, and efficiently mowed down the Generals on Saturday in Waynesboro. The ‘Sox boast the second-best team ERA in the VBL and have allowed the fewest hits in the league.

Hutson Trobaugh (Old Dominion) was especially exceptional this week as the big lefty punched out eight batters in 3.1 scoreless innings of work in his ‘Sox debut on Thursday evening. 

So, to complain about the two rough outings that are currently bookending the season to date — nine runs allowed in the opener at Staunton and twelve against the Turks on Sunday — feels unwarranted. Much of those struggles can be attributed to the lack of roster consistency that can be expected in the first few weeks of summer ball. Nineteen ‘Sox arms have already taken the mound, and it’s hard to get into a routine with so many moving pieces.

With so much talent down in the bullpen, and the flashes of brilliance already seen from Trobaugh, James Hays (Georgia), Trevor Booton (Auburn), and others, the blow-up performances are likely to become fewer and further between as the ‘Sox staff finds its footing in the coming weeks.



It takes a ton to knock off the ‘Sox

Charlottesville had won five-straight since their season-opener prior to Sunday’s loss, and as the Turks learned, it takes a near-perfect ballgame to topple the Tom Sox right now. The ‘Sox outscored their opponents 36-3 from Thursday through Saturday, combining their dominant offense with an impressive stretch of pitching performances.

With the bats clicking the way they are, Harrisonburg executed just about the only formula for success against Charlottesville — an offensive explosion combined with putting just enough zeroes on the board to squeak out a shootout victory. The Turks’ 12-run output was one shy of their season-high, yet they still found themselves needing late-inning insurance to fend off a ‘Sox rally.

The Tom Sox have a busy, off day-free week ahead, with consecutive road games on Wednesday and Thursday followed by consecutive home games on Friday and Saturday. They will travel to Covington Sunday before getting next Monday off.

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