CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – After six hours and 28 minutes of baseball under the scorching hot sun, the Charlottesville Tom Sox ended their regular season with a doubleheader split against the Waynesboro Generals. The ‘Sox lost the first game at home 7-4 and won the second on the road 18-9. With the split plus Purcellville’s DH sweep of Harrisonburg today, the Tom Sox officially clinched the top seed in the South division. They will share the title of division co-champion with the winner of Monday’s Waynesboro/Harrisonburg game but will be the #1 seed courtesy of a tiebreaker (head-to-head series wins).
GAME 1 (by Will Trout)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Charlottesville Tom Sox lost 7-4 in extra innings of their first game of their doubleheader against the Waynesboro Generals.
It was a blistering afternoon for the final regular season game day. In a series that would prove to have drastic playoff implications, both teams entered Sunday afternoon knowing these two games would help determine the hosts for the Valley League Playoffs.
Charlottesville continued their early-inning scoring, as Carter Cunningham (East Carolina) crushed a solo shot over the short right field wall to vault the ‘Sox to an early lead in the first. Waynesboro would respond in kind, getting to Tom Sox mound starter Fisher Jameson (Florida) who gave up multiple walks and allowed a run to cross in the following frame. Control issues would continue to plague Jameson, walking five batters across his four innings of work and giving up a pair of runs in the fourth.
Charlottesville would regain its offensive prowess in the sixth inning, as eight Tom Sox batters would come to the plate. In an inning that saw Christian Martin (Virginia Tech) and Trey Yunger (Wofford) score in a flurry of base hits and defensive errors, Charlottesville was able to plate two runs and load the bases just twelve pitches into reliever Daulton Montagna’s appearance. Unable to produce further, the Tom Sox left the bases loaded, part of a total nine runners stranded over ten innings.
On the defensive side, relievers Chandler Marsh (Georgia) and Wyatt Lunsford-Shenkman (East Carolina) saw action, pitching a collective four innings of three-hit ball and striking out four batters in the process.
Jack Billings (Coastal Carolina) relieved Lunsford-Shenkman for the ninth inning and promptly walked two batters to put the pressure on. However, a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out on an attempted double steal ended the inning, setting the stage for Charlottesville to walk it off for the third time in four games.
Martin was able to reach on a full count walk, but was caught stealing on the following pitch, meaning bonus baseball in Charlottesville.
Following a bunt that put two Waynesboro runners in scoring position, back-to-back doubles to right center from Kasey Caras and Garrett Bogart put Waynesboro up 6-3 and deflated the Charlottesville crowd. Another single plated a final Waynesboro run, putting the deficit at four and giving Charlottesville a difficult inning of work.
Cunningham would contribute his third RBI in the bottom of the tenth, bringing in the ghost runner Yunger, but a flyout and two strikeouts spelled the end to the Tom Sox rally, jeopardizing their division seed placement until the second game results.
GAME 2 (by Joe Callahan Jr.)
WAYNESBORO, Va. – With a home field playoff advantage in jeopardy, the Tom Sox – just hours after dropping an extra-inning game – officially clinched the first seed in the Valley League South Division with a 18-9 win in Waynesboro.
Game two did not start out as the first did. The Generals instantly loaded the bases, and a misjudged ground ball resulted in an early two run lead. Another deep drive to left brought in another run, and the Tom Sox fell into an early 0-3 hole.
Charlottesville wouldn’t go down early without a fight, however. Cole Wagner (Georgia) extended both his RBI tear and his historic 32-game on-base streak with an RBI single, which made him the league leader in RBIs. Another run came across due to a wild pitch.
After handing the Generals two more runs on a silver platter due to more uncharacteristic fielding mistakes, the offense continued to respond in the fourth. Carter Cunningham (East Carolina) knocked in one, coupled with another 2-RBI crack from Wagner to give the ‘Sox their first lead since the beginning of game one. Wagner was brought home by Trey Yunger (Wofford) with a single. The ‘Sox proceeded to load the bases, setting up Matthew Prevesk (Florida) to drive in two more, breaking the lead out four and tallying the score at 9-5.
As we saw in the first game, and all season for that matter, the Generals evened out the playing field. A grand slam by Jalen Vasquez off of ‘Sox starter Christian Howe (Kentucky) sent the game back to square one, heading into the fifth knotted 9-9.
Tie games late is when greatness is born. It just so happens that Charlottesville breeds dawgs. It was all Tom Sox for the rest of the outing. They took back the lead in the fifth with Cole Wagner finding more ways to extend his RBI crown. He walked with the bases loaded, and it was matched with a sacrifice fly by Yunger. Garrett Spikes (Georgia) felt hungry himself, as he clobbered the first grand slam of the season and the ‘Sox’s first in over three years. They added insurance runs in the ninth, including a Kalvin Alexander (Florida Southwestern) souvenir solo homerun to left center and a pair of RBI singles from Prevesk and Christian Martin (Virginia Tech).
Scoring for the Generals died out after the fourth thanks to five straight shutout innings by Shane Stossel (Lebanon Valley) in his first Tom Sox appearance. With the defensive scares in both games today, this played the largest factor in the change of the tide. Stossel finished his day with 105 pitches – the most by a ‘Sox pitcher this season – and let up six walks and only one hit to go along with his eight strikeouts.
As the Tom Sox secured the first seed in the south, they will take on the Covington Lumberjacks in the first series of the playoffs. The first round series will begin Tuesday (July 26) at 7 P.M. at Charlottesville High School. Ticket & parking information will be announced on Monday.
The team that scored first lost both games, as Charlottesville struck first in game one and Waynesboro scored first in game two.
The Tom Sox finished the regular season with two more road wins than home wins; a 12-9 record at home and 14-7 record on the road.
Charlottesville’s 18 runs are tied for the third-most in team history (the record is 19). The Tom Sox scored a combined 35 runs in their final two wins over Waynesboro.
Shane Stossel’s 105 pitches are the most by a Tom Sox pitcher since AJ Franklin threw 112 against Harrisonburg in game one of a doubleheader on July 25, 2016. They are the most pitches ever thrown by a Tom Sox reliever, and Stossel is only the second ‘Sox pitcher ever to throw 100+ pitches in relief (Daniel Johnson threw 100 pitches in 7 innings of a 16-inning game on 7/19/2015).
Cole Wagner extended his on-base streak to 32 games after reaching in both games Sunday. He is now three games away from tying Michael Wielansky for the Tom Sox record. Wagner also became the first player to record a 5-RBI game this season, and the first Tom Sox player to do so since Walker Imwalle did so in Covington on June 17, 2019.
Garrett Spikes’ grand slam was the first since Imwalle hit a grand slam in the same game as mentioned above. It is only the third grand slam in Tom Sox history.
Christian Howe’s nine runs allowed in game two are tied for the most by a pitcher in Tom Sox history.