The Charlottesville Tom Sox faced the Strasburg Express in a doubleheader Sunday, taking both games, 6-4 and 9-2, respectively. The matchup was a long awaited rematch from the 2019 Valley Baseball League championship game where the Tom Sox defeated the Express 4-1. It was only the second doubleheader sweep in team history for Charlottesville.
The Express started things off early with a homerun from Chad Fairey in the top of the first. The Tom Sox quickly responded in the bottom with a homerun of their own from Wyatt Langford (Florida), his first of the season. The Sox then followed that with a run scored by Makenzie Pate (Coastal Carolina) on a single from Jonah Seagears (Virginia Tech) bringing the score to 2-1.
The next three would be characterized by the impressive pitching of Charlottesville’s Brady Kirtner (Virginia Tech) and Strasburg’s Donovan Burke (JMU). The second and third innings were scoreless and Kirtner kept the Express scoreless in the top of the fourth before switching with Andrew Ward (VCU) mid-inning. Charlottesville brought the score to 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth with a run scored by newcomer Elijah Nunez (TCU).
The Express answered with a run of their own, scored after James Vaughn (Duke) entered the game. Burke came off the mound for Strasburg in the bottom of the fifth, and Cameron Clonch (ECU) came in. This change was to the Tom Sox’ advantage with Langford quickly hitting a triple, advancing to third, and scoring. The next two ‘Sox batters were called out, but Cole Foster (Auburn) singled and made it to second on an error and scored after Jonah Seagears doubled. Seagears later earned his own run off a well-executed single from Brett Lindsey (Eastern Mennonite) to bring the score to 6-2.
In the sixth, Fairey hit another home run and brought Ty Hooks (Winthrop) home resulting in a pitching change. Tom Sox pitcher Chase Centala (Florida) held the express off for the next inning and the Tom Sox won the first game 6-4.
Charlottesville kept that momentum going into the second game. Pitcher Dillon Janac (Rice) quickly had the Express batters go down in order and the Tom Sox went to work. First up to bat, Gehrig Ebel (Virginia Tech) doubled, then Langford followed with a single of his own, advancing them both to third and second, respectively. Garrett Spikes (Georgia) came in and doubled to bring them both home. Makenzie Pate advanced to second on an error, eventually scoring, grabbing an early lead.
Janac was the star of the show, holding the Express scoreless through five innings, the first of the ‘Sox to do so this season. Strasburg’s pitchers Matthew Kleinfelter (JMU) and Landon Harper (Pearl River Community College) held the Tom Sox scoreless from the second inning through the fifth innings.
Garrett Wright (TCU) came on the mound replacing Janac in the top of the sixth. Ryan Galanie (Wofford) quickly singled and advanced and later scored on a pass ball for their first score of the second game, and Brayton Brown followed with his own run.
The Tom Sox offense came alive in the bottom of the sixth. Gehrig Ebel doubled to bring Elijah Nunez and Kam Guidry (Georgia) home. After a few defensive substitutions, a single from Langford brought Ebel home and advanced others. Garrett Spikes finished off the excitement with a single to bring Langford home, ending a five-run inning.
There were a few defensive substitutions for the Tom Sox to start the final inning, including bringing in Preston Allen (Coastal Bend) to pitch. Strasburg worked to fill the bases but Allen struck them out before they had the chance to cash in, finishing the game and giving the Tom Sox a dominant 9-2 victory.
Heading into the holiday weekend, Charlottesville will face Harrisonburg away on Tuesday and at home on Wednesday at 7 pm.