COVINGTON, Va. – The Charlottesville Tom Sox (14-7) traveled to Covington to take on the Lumberjacks (10-8) Saturday night, coming out on top in a 10-9 whirlwind victory that saw five lead changes, 25 total hits, and eight total errors.
Charlottesville came out swinging to take an early lead in the top of the first, a change of pace from its last two victories in which they did not score until the sixth inning or later. With two outs, Aidan Teel (Virginia) and Connor Hincks (Notre Dame) lined back-to-back singles. The pair advanced on a Covington balk before Hollis Porter (Mississippi State) drove them in with a shot to left field to make the score 2-0.
In the bottom of the first, right-hander David Utagawa (Northwestern) took the mound for the ‘Sox. He made quick work of the Lumberjacks, retiring them in order.
Charlottesville cooled off offensively in the second, while the Lumberjacks struck back. A leadoff single followed by three walks halved Charlottesville’s lead with just one out. With the bases still loaded, Utagawa forced a soft inning-ending double-play ball to second.
The ‘Sox stayed quiet in the top of the third, giving Covington a chance to keep their momentum – which they did. Utagawa was pulled after giving up back-to-back singles, which turned the ball over to Davian Garcia (Pasco-Hernando SC). His day started iffy, with both runners advancing on a pickoff attempt that skipped into center field. The ‘Jacks then took the lead on an infield single and a successful double steal to make the score 3-2. After a slew of miscues, though, Garcia steadied the ship by recording three straight strikeouts.
Charlottesville again went quietly in the top half of the fourth. The Lumberjacks extended their lead in the bottom half as a bases-loaded sacrifice fly drove in a runner to make it 4-2.
The ‘Sox bounced back in the top of the fifth, capitalizing on a Lumberjack error and two walks to load the bases. Derek Williams (Florida Southwestern) was hit by a pitch and Kalvin Alexander (Georgia Southwestern) knocked a sharp grounder through the gap to score two more as Charlottesville retook the lead 5-4. On the defensive side, Garcia worked a clean 1-2-3 inning to preserve the lead.
Charlottesville tacked on two more runs in the top of the seventh, loading up the bases for David Wiley (Wofford) to drive in a run with a single. Edwards contributed a sacrifice fly to make the score 7-4.
In the bottom half of the inning, Garcia picked up another strikeout, but an infield single, throwing error, wild pitch, and RBI single brought Covington within two as Garcia’s night came to an end. He finished with eight strikeouts in a strong 4.2 innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits and one walk.
Braden Halladay (High Point) entered the game and forced a grounder that would have been the third out, but a high throw from third baseman Henry Ford (Virginia) kept the Lumberjacks alive. They capitalized with back-to-back doubles to deep center field, bringing around three unearned runs and retaking the lead at 8-7 before the side was finally retired.
Charlottesville went three-up, three-down in the top of the eighth. Halladay conceded a single and committed the ‘Sox’s sixth error of the game on another failed pickoff attempt that moved the runner to third. Covington then extended their lead with a straight steal of home to make it 9-7.
Charlottesville rallied back in the top of the ninth as Williams launched a solo home run to deep center field – his second long ball in three days – to make it a one run game. Ford drew a walk and pinch runner Sergio Rivera (Florida Southwestern) came around to score on an Alexander double. The ‘Sox then shifted to a small ball approach as bunt singles from Wiley and Edwards brought Alexander in to score the go-ahead run.
Righty Jeremy Goins (Tampa) received the ball in the bottom of the ninth, earning the save by recording two strikeouts and forcing a grounder to end a roller coaster of a baseball game.
Halladay was credited with the win while Alexander paved the way on offense going 3-for-5 with a double and three RBI. Garcia’s 4.2 innings, while a bit shaky at the end, held Covington largely at bay and kept the Tom Sox’s comeback chances in reach.
The ‘Sox will look to extend their three-game winning streak Sunday when they begin a six-game homestand against the Culpeper Cavaliers. First pitch is set for 7 P.M.
Charlottesville scored double-digit runs for the first time since June 17.
Eight Tom Sox batters, and 15 batters total, reached base at least twice in the contest.
The Tom Sox have now won their last six games against the Lumberjacks.
Charlottesville’s six errors are their most since committing seven in July 2021, and their fourth game all-time with six or more errors.
The three-hour, 37-minute game is the longest of the season thus far and subsequently the longest of the pitch clock era. Since June 15, six of the team’s seven games had been under three hours.