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Corbin’s Corner: Looking Toward the Second Half

The last week of Charlottesville Tom Sox (17-6) baseball saw the green and blue run into some adversity for the first time this season. After dropping Monday night’s game at Harrisonburg 10-4, Charlottesville has now lost two out of three games for the first time this season; emphasizing their first-half dominance while illustrating some recent turbulence.

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The last week of Charlottesville Tom Sox (17-6) baseball saw the green and blue run into some adversity for the first time this season. After dropping Monday night’s game at Harrisonburg 10-4, Charlottesville has now lost two out of three games for the first time this season; emphasizing their first-half dominance while illustrating some recent turbulence. 

With the NACSB Prospect Games taking place last Monday, VBL All-Star Weekend festivities the last few days, and a rain-shortened trip to Covington on Wednesday, the ‘Sox have only played 32 innings over the last eight days. As the schedule gets rolling again this week, look for the ‘Sox to rediscover some consistency and start stockpiling wins once again.

In the meantime, Corbin’s Corner is back with three observations from the past four ballgames.

THE OFFENSE HAS HIT A MIDYEAR SPEED BUMP

For the first time this summer, the ‘Sox offense didn’t overwhelm its opponents. Charlottesville has scored five or fewer runs in each of their last four games, managing only 25 hits across those four games. The mini-slump has allowed the Strasburg Express to pass the ‘Sox for the VBL lead in runs scored, and Charlottesville’s team batting average (.266) has fallen to fourth in the league.

With Cade Belyeu — who has been out of the lineup since June 22nd — sidelined, the ‘Sox have struggled to hit for power as of late. Robbie Lavey’s (George Washington) mammoth two-run walk-off bomb on Friday against Waynesboro is the squad’s only long ball over the last four games, and the ‘Sox have generated just four extra base hits in that span.

The halfway mark of the season always leads to a lot of roster turnover in the VBL, meaning Charlottesville has added a lot of new faces over the past couple weeks. Caden Ferraro (Blinn) and Cooper Blauser (Jacksonville State) each made their team debuts over the past few days, and several other ‘Sox are still settling into their roles.

Head Coach Randy Tomlin’s offense was at its best in the first half of the season after he began to solidify roles within the lineup, so there’s no reason to believe the bats won’t once again come alive in the second half once things settle down and everyone has a chance to find their spot.


THE SOUTH DIVISION GOT A WAKE-UP CALL IN PURCELLVILLE

Ethan Gibson (Virginia Tech), Ayden Alexander (George Washington), Robbie Lavey (George Washington), Johnnie Lopez (Seminole State), and Daniel Powell (Kennesaw State) represented the ‘Sox in the VBL All-Star Game this weekend. But what was otherwise a fun couple of days of festivities ended on a sour note as the North Division handed the South a 20-2 smackdown on Sunday evening at Fireman’s Field.

While the outcome of the All-Star Game is mostly meaningless, Sunday’s beating will hopefully provide some motivation to the ‘Sox and the rest of the South Division. The VBL adopted a new schedule format this season, meaning for the first time Charlottesville will only play South Division opponents for the entirety of the regular season.

Sunday’s All-Star Game thus provided the ‘Sox their first glimpse of the competition up North. If Charlottesville is ultimately able to advance through the VBL playoffs at the end of July and represent the South Division in the championship series, the ‘Sox certainly won’t take the North lightly after Sunday.


STAFF SPOTLIGHT

While the offense is trying to reignite themselves for the back half of the season, it’s the perfect time to shine some light on the arms putting in work in the ‘Sox bullpen.

Chase Stryker (Coastal Carolina) was dominant on Friday against Waynesboro, going 4.2 innings without an earned run while surrendering just three hits and striking out seven Generals. The rising sophomore was thrust into the game after injuries forced both Tommy Roldan (Virginia) and Ethan Sutton (Georgia) out of the game, but Stryker did an excellent job getting things settled down and saving the ‘Sox bullpen from burning too many arms.

Stryker’s ERA is down to 1.26 in 14.1 innings pitched this season, and he’s punched out 18 batters while allowing just three walks.

Marco Levari (Old Dominion) was equally effective on Thursday against Staunton. The Monarch pitched two perfect innings and struck out a pair of Braves in what was his final outing of the season with the Tom Sox. Levari finished his summer with a 1.76 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 15.1 innings of work, proving himself not only to be one of the most effective hurlers in Charlottesville’s bullpen but also an exciting rising talent for Old Dominion.

Will Pearson (Georgia) had a pair of strong outings over the past four games, combining to throw 2.2 scoreless innings during which he allowed just one hit. Pearson continues to add to an excellent string of recent performances: After getting roughed up on June 11th at Covington, the rising senior has thrown 5.2 consecutive scoreless innings while allowing just four runners to reach base.


LOOKING AHEAD:

The ‘Sox will wrap up their back-to-back in Harrisonburg on Tuesday night before making the trip to Covington on Wednesday night. After a day off for the Fourth of July on Thursday, Charlottesville will be back in action for a full weekend of baseball that includes Saturday’s ‘Holiday on the Hill Night’ at Charlottesville High School.

 

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