Defense Struggles as Tom Sox Drop Third Straight

The Charlottesville Tom Sox took on the Strasburg Express tonight with a home field advantage but suffered their third straight loss, falling by a 5-2 final score.
Team Linescore
123456789R H E
Winner SE Strasburg 0010040005 6 1
CHL Charlottesville 0000020002 5 5
W:
Matt Dickey (2-1)
L:
Aaron Blum (1-1)
S:
Nick Lottchea (1)

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Charlottesville Tom Sox took on the Strasburg Express tonight with a home field advantage but suffered their third straight loss, falling by a 5-2 final score.

Strasburg gained some footing early on with a single by Ty Hooks and a double by Jayden Davis immediately after to put them both in scoring position in the top of the first inning. Charlottesville, however, struck back to hold them from scoring with defensive efforts in the outfield and the infield – two flyouts, one to right fielder Hollis Porter (Mississippi State) and the other to center fielder Justin Thomas (Georgia), and then a groundout fielded by Kyle Edwards (Old Dominion). The bottom of the inning was also closed quickly by the Strasburg defense leaving the first at 0-0.

Strasburg scored the first run of the game in the top of the third. Wyatt Piefer singled to lead off the inning, then advanced to second on the first of two errors on the day by ‘Sox first baseman Derek Williams (Florida Southwestern). He reached third on a flyout, then scored on a groundout to make it 1-0. The unearned run was the only run allowed by ‘Sox starter Aaron Blum (Kentucky), who went three innings and surrendered three hits and two walks, striking out one.

Charlottesville threatened to strike back in the bottom half of the frame. In his first collegiate at-bat, catcher Salvy Alvarez (Florida) hit a triple to deep right field to put a runner in prime position with one out. The ‘Sox were unable to capitalize, though, stranding runners on first and third to keep it at 1-0 entering the fourth.

Both teams managed the fourth and fifth innings without allowing a run to cross. Two different ‘Sox pitchers, Mike Eggert (Wofford) and David Utagawa (Northwestern), each worked scoreless frames despite leaving a runner on. The same can be said for Express starter Matt Dickey, who finished his five scoreless innings allowing six Charlottesville batters to reach, striking out two and walking a pair.

However, the close game did not last any longer. After a hit by pitch put Mitchell Smith on for Strasburg, Jacob Friend hit a 2-run homer over the fence in center field to give Strasburg a three-run cushion. The Express kept their momentum going with a hit by pitch, single, and fielder’s choice which plated one. The final run of the inning encapsulated the defensive day for Charlottesville, though – Strasburg’s Cade Parker advanced to second on a fielding error by Williams, made it to third on a balk by Utagawa, then scored on a throwing error by third baseman Alex Bouche (Old Dominion), which allowed Wyatt Peifer to reach base and make it all the way to third. While Utagawa got out of the inning with a strikeout, Strasburg’s damage was already done as they walked away with a 5-0 advantage.

Charlottesville fought back with two of their own in the bottom half. After Thomas walked and Williams singled to put two on with one out, pinch hitter Sergio Rivera (Florida Southwestern) hit a well-placed bunt single up the third base line to score one. Defensive carnage continued, though, as Rivera was able to advance to second and Williams was able to score from first on a throwing error by pitcher Nick Lottchea, who attempted to catch Rivera at first following the bunt. The inning made it 5-2 Strasburg entering the final three frames.

The final three innings held one strikeout after the other pitched by Charlottesville’s Liam Best (State College of Florida) and Jordan Little (East Carolina), the latter of whom made his Tom Sox debut. The two combined for strikeouts of eight of the final 12 Express batters after the previous three pitchers struck out only two. The same could be said for Strasburg reliever Nick Lottchea, who struck out eight of his own over the final four innings to earn the save.

After an unsuccessful ninth inning rally, the Tom Sox suffered their fourth home loss of the season in five games. They will be back in action Wednesday on the road, facing Waynesboro at 7 P.M.

Additional Notes

  • Charlottesville’s five errors are their most since committing six at Staunton on June 9, 2021.

  • The ‘Sox were held to five or fewer hits for the third time in five home games. They have scored two runs in four of their five home games, the lone exception being the win against Staunton.

  • Four players made their team debuts – Florida Southwestern’s Derek Williams, Old Dominion’s Alex Bouche, Florida’s Salvy Alvarez, and East Carolina’s Jordan Little.

  • After stealing ten bases on Friday in Harrisonburg, Charlottesville has stolen eight over the last three games combined.

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