Andrew Zban does it again with a Game Winning HR in the bottom of the 8th to secure the lead for the cannons. Photo by Matt Gusmerotti.
PURCELLVILLE, VIRGINIA— The Cannons returned home looking to bounce back after a 10-2 defeat on the road at Covington on Tuesday. Rain put a damper on the afternoon, but acting manager Ridge Fuller assured everyone there would be baseball in Purcellville today.
Sean Gabel made his season debut with the Cannons, and the bats of the Front Royal Cardinals jumped on Gabel early and took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the first. The problem for the Cannons yesterday was their inability to capitalize on opportunities given to them, as the Covington pitching staff gave up 8 walks but the Cannons could not bring them in. In the first today against the Front Royal Cardinals, leadoff man Nolan Ritchie singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After Trevin Esquerra worked a walk to put runners on first and second, first baseman Kyle Ouellette managed to get his first hit this season and brought in Nolan Ritchie from second cutting the lead to 2-1.
Gabel managed to work a 1, 2, 3 inning in the second. The Cannons had a great opportunity in the second to break the game open, getting the first three batters of the inning on base and had the bases loaded with no outs. Nolan Ritchie hit a solid line drive, that was robbed from going into the gap, by shortstop Marc Mumper, who was then able to double up Andy Szamski at second. The threat was there, but unfortunately for the Cannons the second would end with just a threat and no damage done.
After that threat, the Cannons’ bats were stymied, while the bats of the Front Royal Cardinals were awake and making noise. In the third, the Cardinals nearly hit through their entire batting order, and bringing in three runs to increase the score 5-1. Then in the fifth and sixth the Cardinals would get one run in each inning. Sean Gabel’s final line in his Cannons debut was 4.2 innings pitched with six hits, five runs (three earned), three walks and four strikeouts. Kyle Morton came in for relief and in the sixth game up a long homerun to Cardinals first baseman Joseph McGuinness, but that would be his only blemish. Morton went 1.1 innings, allowed one hit, one run (one earned), and struck out two Cardinal hitters.
It was then, in the bottom of the sixth, the Cannons bats came to life. Trailing 7-1, Raul Cabrera and Onassis Matos, who came in for Jake Goodreau in the top of the fifth after being injured on a foul ball, would both draw walks. Cabrera would advance to third on a wild pitch and then score on a passed ball, Cannons trailing still 7-2. With a runner on first, acting manager Ridge Fuller pinch hit Sheldon Reed for Andy Szamski. After a passed ball, that would allow Onassis Matos to move up to second base, Sheldon Reed singled and that would bring Matos home to make the score 7-3. Andrew Zban would pinch hit for Mitchell Painter in the next at-bat. Painter would finish 1 for 2. Zban hit a drive to left center field that would end up being an RBI triple, and Sheldon Reed would score the third Cannon run bringing the game to within three. After Tyler Ratliff singled and stole second base, Cardinal pitcher Michael McDonough would strike out Trevin Esquerra to end the Cannons sixth.
Tom Sutera came in relief and pitched two strong innings of relief, surrendering only one walk and striking out two hitters. In the seventh, Ray Hernandez led off with a double and Kyle Ouellette dropped a bunt down to move Hernandez to third. Hernandez would score on a wild pitch during Raul Cabrera’s at-bat to make the score 7-6.
In the bottom of the eighth, Sheldon Reed led off with a single. Andrew Zban stepped in and gave the Cannons the lead with a monster homerun into left-center that would hit off the scoreboard and give the Cannons the lead 8-7, late in the game. Two batters later, Tyler Ratliff would double and then advance to third on a wild pitch. The Cardinals would rebound with a strikeout of Trevin Esquerra, but then surrendered a long RBI double to Ray Hernandez and the Cannons would finish the eighth up 9-7. Fuller then called on closer Dalton Whitaker to finish off the Cardinals and he did surrendering only one hit and securing the Cannons’ third win of the season.
The Cannons start a two game roadtrip at Harrisonburg on Thursday and at Winchester on Friday. They will then return home for a weekend homestand on Saturday and Sunday.