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Corbin’s Corner: Reflections from the Halfway Point

The Charlottesville Tom Sox (15-4) went 5-1 in another dominant week of VBL action to maintain their league-best record and expand their South Division lead to 4.5 games over the Harrisonburg Turks (10-8). After a two-game sweep of the Staunton Braves (10-10) on Saturday and Sunday, Charlottesville is riding a three-game win streak into the halfway point of the summer season, and with 19 of 40 ballgames in the books, Corbin’s Corner is back with some midseason reflections.



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

The Charlottesville Tom Sox (15-4) went 5-1 in another dominant week of VBL action to maintain their league-best record and expand their South Division lead to 4.5 games over the Harrisonburg Turks (10-8).

Charlottesville also treated their fans to three home wins during a fun week at Willie T. Barnett Field. Festivities at the yard included the first ever ‘Tom-Stock’ Celebration on Tuesday, ‘Festivus’ on Friday, and the ‘Sox ‘Post-Father’s Day Bash’ on Sunday.

After a two-game sweep of the Staunton Braves (10-10) on Saturday and Sunday, Charlottesville is riding a three-game win streak into the halfway point of the summer season, and with 19 of 40 ballgames in the books, Corbin’s Corner is back with some midseason reflections.



The ‘Sox will cross the halfway mark of the season when they travel to Covington on Wednesday night, meaning it’s the perfect time for Charlottesville’s midterm report card.


Offense: A+

The ‘Sox bats have been borderline unstoppable through the first half of the summer. Charlottesville’s team OPS of .847 leads the league, and the squad is tied for the VBL-best in both home runs (17) and total runs scored (161).

The lineup has been a force to be reckoned with on a nightly basis, as the ‘Sox have scored fewer than five runs on just three occasions while powering their way to 10 or more runs in nine games.

There’s almost nothing to complain about when it comes to Charlottesville’s offensive performance thus far. The boys are hitting for both contact and power but impressing more than anything with their plate discipline and ability to make opposing pitchers work — the ‘Sox 138 walks lead the VBL and are 26 ahead of any other squad in the league.


Pitching: A

Just like the offense, Charlottesville’s pitching staff is making a case that it’s the best in the VBL. The ‘Sox 3.27 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and .192 opposing batting average all lead the league while their 183 total strikeouts trail only the Purcellville Cannons.

The only blemishes holding the staff back from a highly coveted ‘A+’ grade are the couple blowup performances mixed in with what has otherwise been reliable dominance. The Turks were able to knock the staff around with back-to-back double-digit run outputs earlier this month, and the Waynesboro Generals (9-11) scored 10 runs on 12 hits this past Thursday. For the most part, though, the bullpen has absolutely shoved.


Fielding: C

 The one blemish on the Tom Sox resume thus far has been their defense. Charlottesville added 15 errors this past week to their league-worst total of 43 as the ‘Sox continued their tendency to let some routine plays get away from them.

Despite the errors, Charlottesville has certainly flashed the leather with some highlight-reel plays throughout the first half of the schedule. Cale Stricklin (Auburn) has gunned down five would-be base stealers already and Cade Belyeu (Auburn) has made several fantastic plays patrolling the outfield.


Weather: B- 

The ‘Sox have only dealt with two rainouts thus far, but Sunday’s game did have to be moved from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. due to heat, capping off a brutal week of scorchers.

While the UK whines about temperatures in the low-80s across the pond, ‘Sox fans will be happy to see highs back below 95-degrees this week at Charlottesville High School.


Mid-season MVP: Johnnie Lopez (Seminole State)

Lopez gets the nod here over Robbie Lavey (George Washington) based on sample size — Lopez has played six more games — but that’s not to say the Seminole State product hasn’t been a machine at the dish. 

The infielder from Deltona, Fla., is hitting .333 on the season with 15 runs batted in, 3 home runs, and 7 stolen bases. Lopez is also coming off arguably his best stretch of the season after going 7-for-19 this past week with three-hit performances Thursday at Waynesboro and Saturday at Staunton.

Lavey, Ethan Gibson (Virginia Tech), Belyeu, Daniel Powell (Kennesaw State), and Marco Levari (Old Dominion) all drew consideration for this prestigious award, but Lopez’s consistency and production was ultimately too much to overlook.




The halfway point of the summer also means it’s all-star season in the VBL, and the ‘Sox are well represented at the festivities.

Lavey, Lopez, and Gibson will be the Charlottesville position players making the trip to Purcellville for the VBL All-Star Game on Sunday while Powell and Levari will represent the ‘Sox pitching staff. 

Lavey returned to the Charlottesville lineup this week after briefly missing time due to injury and picked up right where he left off. The George Washington product is 2nd in the VBL with a 1.142 OPS and added a double (3) and home run (4) to his season totals this weekend.

Gibson had another stellar week as well. A model of consistency, the Hokie has reached base in 16-of-17 games played and has a hit in seven of his last eight games.

On the mound, Powell added three more scoreless innings to his season total this week. The big righty has still yet to allow a run this season and has a ridiculous 0.80 WHIP to go with 11 strikeouts in 10.0 innings of work.

In addition to the all-stars, Tommy Roldan (Virginia) will participate in the VBL Home Run Derby on Saturday.

The NACSB Prospect Games also went down on Monday with five Tom Sox representing the VBL in their matchup against the NYCBL. Belyeu, Colby Wallace (East Carolina), Powell, Ethan Sutton (Georgia), and Ryan Grzesiak (Florida Southwestern) earned spots on the VBL roster as the NYCBL squeaked out a narrow 12-10 victory.

Grzesiak impressed in 1.1 clean innings of work in the game, punching out two batters in the process while Wallace singled and scored.




It’s certainly not just the all-stars carrying the ‘Sox offense. Lavey, Lopez, Roldan, and Gibson have provided a steady nucleus for the order, but each night someone new seems to step up in a big moment. 

Recently, Stricklin and Ryan Wynn (Wofford) have been two of the hottest bats in the C’Ville lineup.

Stricklin, a rising sophomore catcher, went 6-for-13 at the plate this past week with three walks and five RBI. Always reliable behind the plate, Stricklin has really broken out in the box over the past six games and posted his best performance of the season on Thursday at Waynesboro, going 3-for-3 with a walk. 

Wynn has been equally impressive as of late. The Wofford Terrier saw his seven-game hitting-streak come to an end on Saturday but got right back in the hit column on Sunday evening. Wynn is 14-for-35 (.400) at the plate over his last nine games. 

The depth of this C’Ville lineup is what makes it so scary for opposing pitchers. There are no easy outs anywhere in the order and the ‘Sox are seemingly always on the verge of doing damage.




The ‘Sox head to Covington Wednesday before returning to CHS for a pair of home games on Thursday and Saturday for ‘Local Music Appreciation Night’ against the Braves and ‘First Responders Night’ against the Generals, respectively.

Then it’s on to All-Star Weekend in Purcellville as the ‘Sox will be off for the festivities on Saturday and Sunday.

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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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