WINCHESTER, Va. – The Charlottesville Tom Sox (24-14) started a four day, seven game stretch Sunday afternoon with a doubleheader against the Winchester Royals (25-17). The ‘Sox started out the day red hot, winning 10-0 by run rule; but cooled down as the day went on, falling in game two 7-5.
GAME 1 – Tom Sox 10, Royals 0 (5 innings):
The ‘Sox struggled to get anything going at the plate on Saturday but wasted no time teeing off against Royals starter Nick Mattfield. Connor Hincks (Notre Dame), Nathan Fink (Florida Southwestern), and Jacob Ference (Virginia) all reached base in the top of the first, loading the bases with two outs. Henry Ford (Virginia) worked a five-pitch walk to drive in the first run, and then Chris Arroyo (Florida) split the right center gap with a triple to clear the bases, giving the ‘Sox a 4-0 lead.
The VBL’s ERA leader, Mark Perkins (Rice), made the start for the Tom Sox and was clicking on all cylinders in the early going. Perkins retired the side in the bottom of the first, which included striking out the Royals second and third hitters.
The Tom Sox continued to keep their foot on the gas in the top of the second. Brice Martinez (Wofford) singled with one out, which he followed up by stealing second base. He stole third just two pitches later, and after a throwing error by Royals catcher David Stokely, Martinez trotted home, extending the ‘Sox lead to five.
After another strong inning from Perkins, his battery-mate Ference led off the top of the third and did so with a bang. The newest Tom Sock belted a 2-1 pitch well over the fence in left center field for his second home run in as many games, putting Charlottesville up 6-0.
After stranding two runners in scoring position in the fourth, the ‘Sox got right back to their scoring ways in the fifth. Arroyo led off the inning with a single, his third hit of the game, which brought David Wiley (Wofford) to the plate. Wiley hadn’t shown off a lot of power this summer, only logging two extra-base hits entering today, but that changed with one swing of the bat. Wiley sent a towering fly ball into left that cleared the wall for his first homer of the summer, sending the Tom Sox dugout into a frenzy. The long ball gave the ‘Sox a boost of energy and sparked an even bigger inning, as Hincks and Fink both drove in runs with RBI singles to make it 10-0 and put the game in run rule territory.
Now with a ten-run lead heading into the bottom of the fifth, head coach Lyndon Coleman sent Perkins back out to close the game, and he did just that. Perkins shut the door by getting Jack Hay to ground out to Arroyo, clinching Charlottesville’s fourth run-rule win of the season, 10-0.
Not only was the victory dominant, but it was filled with historic Tom Sox moments. On the pitching side, Perkins became the first Tom Sox pitcher since 2016 (Matthew Sullivan) to throw a complete game shutout (regardless of innings pitched). On the basepaths, Martinez stole four bases, which tied the team record, and the ‘Sox stole five bases as a team, putting them at 115 on the season, which set a new team record.
GAME 2 – Royals 7, Tom Sox 5:
Charlottesville sent David Utagawa (UC Irvine) out to the bump for his sixth start of the season, but he was met with trouble early. After escaping a jam in the bottom of the first, Utagawa allowed a leadoff single to Cade Hamilton in the second. He retired the next hitter, but then hung a slider on a 2-2 count to the following hitter Dominic Joseph, which was lifted to left center for a no-doubt homer to put Winchester ahead 2-0.
Charlottesville loves to respond at the plate after big hits by their opponents, and that trend held true in game two. The ‘Sox plated three runs in the top of the third, as Kyle Edwards (Old Dominion) drove in Salvy Alvarez (Florida Southwestern) with a single, Sergio Rivera (Florida Southwestern) scored on a Martinez sacrifice fly, and Fink brought home Edwards with a groundout.
Winchester didn’t let the lead slip away for long, as Chandler Ballenger brought home Jack Hay with an RBI single to tie the game back at three, starting the back-and-forth battle that would play out the rest of the way.
Alvarez gave Charlottesville the lead right back with an RBI single in the top of the fourth, putting the score at 4-3 ‘Sox.
Garrett Spikes (Georgia) replaced Utagawa on the mound in the bottom half of the inning but wasn’t given a warm welcome by the Royals lineup. Winchester tacked on four runs in the fourth, highlighted by a two-run homer for Evan Smith. Jake Bennett and Ballenger each drove in runs during the rally as well, giving the Royals a 7-4 advantage.
Arroyo started to mount a comeback with a solo homer to lead off the top of the sixth, but the ‘Sox bats went cold. The final six batters for Charlottesville went down in order against Royals relievers Roberto Velasquez and Reid Bowyer, as Winchester took game two, 7-5.
By splitting today’s doubleheader, Winchester and Charlottesville split the season series, 2-2.
The Tom Sox return to action tomorrow with another doubleheader, this one being at home against the Woodstock River Bandits. First pitch for game one is slated for 4 p.m., with the second game to follow 30 minutes after. The second game will mark the Tom Sox’s annual Women in Sports Night.
Chris Arroyo hit for an “unofficial” cycle across the two games with a triple, double, and single in game one and a single & home run in game two. He is the first Tom Sox player to hit for the cycle in a day. (No ‘Sox player has hit for the cycle in one game, which is considered an “official” cycle)
Perkins and Sullivan (on July 26, 2016 at Covington) are the only two Tom Sox players to throw a complete game shutout. Both of them were five-inning games and neither walked a batter.
Perkins’ five innings now qualify him for the single-season record book, where he now has the lowest ERA (0.58 in 31.0 IP) in Tom Sox history.
The 2023 Tom Sox now own the single-season stolen base record (118) and own the top three base stealers in team history (Kyle Edwards, 32; Sergio Rivera, 25; Brice Martinez, 23).