CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Charlottesville Tom Sox (0-1) faced off against the Waynesboro Generals (1-0) Thursday night at CHO Airport Field to kick off the 2023 season, falling 3-2 despite excellent work by the bullpen.
Right-handed pitcher Logan Forsythe (Mississippi State) started the game for the Tom Sox. Forsythe forced consecutive groundouts in the top of the first before a single and wild pitch put a runner on second for the Generals with two outs. Forsythe battled back and earned a full-count strikeout on a fastball up in the zone to retire the side.
The momentum carried over to the bottom of the first for Charlottesville, whose lineup demonstrated plate discipline early on. After the Generals retired the first two batters, the Tom Sox filled the bases with a hit-by-pitch and consecutive walks. They ultimately struck first, going up 1-0 after second baseman Drew Jones (Ohio State) drew a third consecutive walk to plate the first run of the game.
Waynesboro struck back in the second. A bases-loaded hit-by-pitch knotted up the score at one run apiece before Generals first baseman Alexander McCoy lined a two-RBI single to right field to make it 3-1. Right-hander Henry Hardie (Florida Southwestern State) entered the game in relief for the Tom Sox to record the final out of the inning and stop the bleeding.
Charlottesville earned one back in the bottom of the third. A walk, single, and wild pitch placed runners on second and third with no outs. A fielder’s choice drove in designated hitter Shane Stossel (Lebanon Valley) to cut the deficit in half, but the ‘Sox were again unable to maximize their potential on offense, stranding a runner on third.
After a back-and-forth start, both teams settled in following the third inning. On the bump for the ‘Sox, Hardie, Aaron Blum (Kentucky), and Brett Allen (VCU) each contributed scoreless innings, though the bats remained quiet for Charlottesville as well. Southpaw reliever Jarvis Evans Jr. (Georgia) entered the game in the top of the sixth for the ‘Sox and recorded two strikeouts in yet another clean inning for the bullpen.
Charlottesville right fielder Hollis Porter (Mississippi State) kicked off the bottom of the sixth with a leadoff double, giving the ‘Sox a chance to put a run across the plate and tie up the game. They were unable to capitalize, though, as the bottom of the lineup went down in order to keep the score 3-2.
Evans faced adversity in the top of the seventh as multiple pitch clock violations shook up his rhythm. Though he yielded two walks and a hit-by-pitch to load the bases with one out, Evans locked in to deliver a ground ball double play and keep the ‘Sox within striking distance.
After a quiet bottom half of the seventh, Evans returned to the mound for his third inning in relief. Once again, he bent but didn’t break as a single and two walks loaded the bases again for the Generals. With two outs and his back against the wall, Evans delivered a three-pitch strikeout to get out of another jam.
The score held steady through the bottom of the eighth, as center fielder Alex Miller of the Generals made an electric catch against the wall to rob Porter of an almost certain extra-base hit.
Evans returned for the top of the ninth and dominated, striking out the side to finish a four-inning, eight-strikeout relief appearance. He fought through control and clock issues through the night, but when it mattered most he got three crucial swings and misses in a row to give the ‘Sox one last chance in the bottom of the ninth down one.
Unfortunately for the Tom Sox, Waynesboro had a strong relief outing of their own from righty Charlie Dohemann. Dohemann recorded a five-inning win for the Generals, striking out two more in the final inning to bring his total to eight and seal the game.
The Tom Sox will be back in action tomorrow night, hitting the road to take on the Covington Lumberjacks at 7 P.M. at Casey Field.
The Tom Sox fall to 2-6 all-time in season openers. Lyndon Coleman falls to 0-9 in his coaching career in season openers.
Evans’ eight strikeouts mark a career high, previously hitting seven in his second collegiate win at Tennessee. The eight strikeouts are the most by a ‘Sox player since ‘Sox teammate Braden Halladay struck out nine in a playoff game against Waynesboro last season.
After not playing as a freshman at Mississippi State, Hollis Porter’s double was his first hit as a collegiate player.
Two Tom Sox hitters reached base following the third inning; Porter’s double in the sixth and a Kyle Edwards single in the seventh.
The 14 strikeouts by Tom Sox hitters are the most since 15 struck out in the second game of the 2022 season.