COVINGTON, Va. – The Charlottesville Tom Sox (1-1) took on the Covington Lumberjacks (1-1) at Casey Field in Covington Friday, cruising to an 8-1 victory in which they never trailed.
The ‘Sox saw an early opportunity in the top of the first, as center fielder Justin Thomas (Georgia) was hit by a pitch. Thomas stole second – a popular trend in the game – and shortstop Kyle Edwards (Old Dominion) drew a walk to place runners on first and second with no outs. The Lumberjacks steadied the ship, securing a strikeout and double play to neutralize the threat.
Covington had a chance of its own in the bottom of the first as a two-out ground-rule double and wild pitch resulted in a runner on third. Southpaw starter Jaden Kinsler (James Madison) forced a soft groundout to third to keep the score at 0-0.
The stalemate broke in the second inning when third baseman Henry Ford (Virginia) smashed a two-run home run to deep center field. In addition to hitting Charlottesville’s first home run of the season, Ford became the first collegiate freshman to hit a home run in Tom Sox history. The ‘Sox put two more runners on, but a timely pitching change got Covington out of the jam, holding the score at 2-0.
Kinsler kept the bats quiet for the Lumberjacks in the bottom of the second, striking out three of the four batters he faced. Charlottesville settled down as well, going down in order in the top of the third.
Covington scratched a run back in the bottom of the third. With two down and a runner on second, a throwing error brought the runner around to score. Though the potential tying run advanced to third on the throw, Kinsler forced a popout to left to keep it 2-1.
The ‘Sox responded in the top of the fourth with a two-out rally. Left fielder Josh Tate (Georgia) stroked a single, stole second, and came around to score on a Sergio Rivera (Florida Southwestern) single. Rivera advanced on the throw home, stole third, and came around to score on a throwing error, bringing the score to 4-1.
Kinsler continued to comfortably navigate the Lumberjacks lineup, going three up, three down and adding two more strikeouts in the bottom of the fourth. He finished his ‘Sox debut with six strikeouts, three hits, and one unearned run in four innings of work.
Covington stifled Charlottesville in the top of the fifth, then put runners on second and third in the bottom half of the inning. Davian Garcia (Pasco-Hernando CC) entered in relief after a line drive comebacker injured righty Jeremy Goins (Tampa). Garcia got a flyout to hold the score steady.
The ‘Sox were again retired in order, but Garcia worked through a scoreless sixth, striking out two. Charlottesville loaded the bases with two down in the seventh, but reliever Jacob Heath of the Lumberjacks did not allow a run to cross. Garcia settled in in the bottom of the seventh, striking out three.
In the top of the eighth, Rivera willed his way around the bases, dropping down a bunt single, stealing second, advancing to third on a fielder’s choice, and coming home on a passed ball.
Now leading 5-1, Garcia returned for the bottom of the eighth. After a walk put a runner on first, Garcia induced a Jace Rinehart flyout to shallow center. A baserunning error by Jacob Armsey allowed Thomas to double him off at first, giving the ‘Sox a timely double play. After giving up a double, Garcia locked in for a strikeout to end the inning.
The ‘Sox broke the game wide open in the top of the ninth, capitalizing on a number of errors by Covington. A fielder’s choice brought in an unearned run for Charlottesville, and a single from Rivera brought in two more, making the score 8-1. Right-hander Dave Wilson (Lamar) entered to close out the game for Charlottesville in the bottom of the ninth, sealing the win with a two-strikeout appearance.
Garcia earned the win in 3.1 innings, with one hit, three walks and six strikeouts. Jacob Havern of the Lumberjacks took the loss, pitching 1.1 innings and giving up the home run to Ford. Ford finished his ‘Sox debut 2-for-5 with a two-run home run and a double, while Rivera bounced back from a 4-strikeout opener to go 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored.
The Tom Sox return home to CHO Airport Field Saturday evening for a matchup against the Harrisonburg Turks at 7 P.M.
- The Tom Sox stole nine bases, a team record. Tate and Rivera each had three apiece (which tie for second in the record book), while Thomas, Kyle Edwards, and Drew Jones each added one.
- The Tom Sox won their fifth straight game against the Lumberjacks.
- After no Tom Sox pitcher recorded a 6+strikeout game until June 19 of last season, three have struck out six or more in the first two games this season.
- Ford is the first Tom Sox player to homer in their team debut since Tristan Bissetta did so in the season opener at Harrisonburg last season.