STRASBURG, Va. – After five straight days of rain cancellations and postponements, the Charlottesville Tom Sox (9-6) finally returned to the field Saturday night to face the Strasburg Express (11-6) on the road. The ‘Sox ultimately fell 4-1, showing some rust as they failed to generate enough offense to take down the new Valley League leaders.
The Tom Sox used nine different pitchers in the game, a team record, and the teams together used a single-game record 16. Charlottesville recorded only four hits on the night – tied for their second-fewest on the season – and struck out only eight Strasburg batters, their fewest since the fourth game of the year. Every ‘Sox hurler tossed a complete inning aside from Logan Forsythe (Mississippi State), who was tagged with the loss after walking four consecutive batters, two of which came around to score. He did not record an out.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The game began with a leadoff walk for Justin Thomas (Georgia), but Strasburg retired Charlottesville in the top of the first with a double play and strikeout. For the ‘Sox, starter David Utagawa (Northwestern) yielded consecutive two-out knocks to put runners on second and third before working out of the jam with a strikeout.
Charlottesville’s bats stayed quiet in the top of the second, going down in order. The Express threatened with runners on first and second, but Zach Root (East Carolina) tossed a strikeout and forced two flyouts to keep the score knotted at zero.
The ‘Sox showed life in the top of the third, as newly-named Valley League All-Star Kyle Edwards (Old Dominion) lined a two-out single to right and quickly stole second. However, Charlottesville was once again unable to capitalize.
The stalemate broke in the bottom of the third as the ‘Sox’s third pitcher in three innings, Forsythe, walked four straight to bring around a Strasburg run. Grant Comstock (Northwestern) relieved Forsythe and recorded all three outs in the inning, though he walked one more, allowing an inherited runner in to make the score 2-0.
The score held through the fourth inning as both teams traded 1-2-3 innings. Liam Best (State College of Florida) tallied two strikeouts in an inning of work.
Charlottesville scratched a run back in the top of the fifth, as Connor Hincks (Notre Dame) reached on a hit-by-pitch. Hincks came around to score on a wild pitch and throwing error, halving the Express’s lead. The ‘Sox failed to plate another run despite having runners on second and third. Ryan Lynch (Notre Dame) took the mound for Charlottesville, tossing another 1-2-3 inning.
In the top of the sixth, Kalvin Alexander (Georgia Southwestern State) reached second after another Strasburg throwing error, but the ‘Sox stranded him. Jeremy Goins (Tampa) entered the game in the bottom of the sixth, flashing some leather by turning a double play on a comebacker and retiring another hitter to keep the score at 2-1.
The ‘Sox continued to stall offensively in the top of the seventh, as their only baserunner was caught stealing. Meanwhile, Strasburg scored two more in the bottom half of the inning off of new ‘Sox reliever Ryan Keenan (Northwestern), as two singles, a fielder’s choice, and a sacrifice fly made the score 3-1. However, on another RBI single, the Express pushed their luck on the basepaths and Sergio Rivera (Florida Southwestern) delivered a strike from left field to nab a second runner at home and hold the score at 4-1.
Charlottesville’s struggles continued into the top of the eighth. Despite loading the bases with just one out, the ‘Sox were doubled off on a flyout to right as Thomas was cut down at home attempting to score. Righty Braden Halladay (High Point) took the bump in the bottom half of the eighth, the ninth pitcher of the ballgame for Charlottesville. He retired the Express in order to give the ‘Sox their last chance down three.
There would be no comeback for Charlottesville. Despite another runner in scoring position, the game ended with consecutive strikeouts as Strasburg took its second win over the ‘Sox this season.
Forsythe took the loss with four walks and two earned runs. The rest of the staff performed admirably after a prolonged absence from the mound, with seven of the nine pitchers had scoreless appearances. Though the offense stranded seven and totaled just four hits, Edwards accounted for two hits, continuing to offer elite offensive production and stout defense.
Following a two-day break for the Valley League All-Star Game, Charlottesville will be back Tuesday night at CHO Airport Field for a game against the New Market Rebels (8-9) at 7 P.M.
The nine pitchers used by the ‘Sox were the most since they used seven in a game on June 27, 2019, also against Strasburg.
Charlottesville went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, their third game this season going o-fer and first since June 10.
After committing five errors in the first meeting, the Tom Sox defense was errorless for the sixth time this season.
Strasburg’s four errors are the most by a ‘Sox opponent since Purcellville committed six on June 19 of last season.
Aidan Teel (Virginia) and Keenan both made their ‘Sox debuts in the game. Teel went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts in his collegiate debut, while Keenan tossed an inning, allowing two runs and striking out one.