Tyler Ratliff possibly wore his Cannons uniform for the last time against the Waynesboro Generals. Ratliff is expected to be taken in the 2017 First Year MLB player Draft. Photo by Matt Gusmerotti.
WAYNESBORO, VIRGINIA—The Cannons managed to do it again! There’s something about late game heroics that the Cannons love and so far, this season it’s working for them.
The Cannons went on the road to take on the Waynesboro Generals, trying to keep their spot atop the North division and increase their lead. The Cannons’ bats were stymied through much of this game, not mustering a hit until the sixth inning.
On the mound for the Cannons was Andy Crum. This was Crum’s second start of the season. In his first start he pitched well, but could not make it out of the fifth inning, only going 4 innings. Today was a different story, Crum managed to dominate and go 6.1 innings while striking out three. He did give up two runs but it was because of him that the game was close.
The Generals struck for three runs tonight. They drew first blood, scoring in the once in the second inning, once in the seventh and once in the eighth. On the flip side, the Cannons were not only shut out until the eighth, but they were no-hit until the sixth.
In the eighth, Nolan Ritchie led off by reaching on a throwing error by the Generals third baseman, Parker Phillips. He would then reach second on a passed ball. After Raul Cabrera flew out to the right fielder, Ritchie would tag and move to third with only one out. Then Sheldon Reed came up big and hit a deep sacrifice fly, allowing Ritchie to tag again and score to put the Cannons on the scoreboard. The Generals would also add one run of their own in the bottom half of the eighth. Heading in to the ninth, the score was Generals – 3, Cannons – 1.
Andrew Zban would start off the ninth for the Cannons and would find his way on first by getting beaned by a hard 93 mph fastball, but he would be ok. Mitchell Painter, who pinch ran for Andy Szamski in the fifth after he was hit by a pitch, would ground into a fielder’s choice. With a runner on first and one out, Kyle Ouellette pinch hit for Payton Marshall and he would deliver a big single, however Painter would be gunned down on a perfect throw from right field and Ouellette would move up to second on the throw. That would bring up Tyler Ratliff, who would be pinch hitting for catcher Jake Goodreau, with a runner on second and two outs. Ratliff delivered one of the multiple late game clutch hits for the Cannons this season, a two out RBI triple to bring the game within one, 3-2 Generals still leading. Langston Watkins would pinch run for Ratliff and he would score on the next at-bat on a wild pitch and just like that the game was tied 3-3.
After the Cannons went quickly and quietly through the tenth, the Generals would put the Cannons defense to the test. Cannons closer, Dalton Whitaker came back out after working a scoreless ninth. He would hit the first batter in the tenth, but managed to get the next out. With a runner on second after the sacrifice, Generals leadoff man, Ryan Rosa hit a line drive single to right field. Luke Robinson, the man on second would try to come around and score to end the game, but Cannons right fielder, Sheldon Reed had other plans and threw a perfect ball straight to Onassis Matos at home to gun down Robinson and give life and breath back to every Cannon at Katy Collins Field. Whitaker would then pickoff the runner at first to end the bottom of the tenth.
In the eleventh, the first two Cannons were retired and it looked like the game would continue to later innings. Mitchell Painter had other plans as he singled with two outs and then stole second. Kyle Ouellette came up big again singling and bringing in Painter to give the Cannons the lead and that is where it stayed. Dalton Whitaker came back out for his third inning of work. With all the drama, this game couldn’t end without drama. The leadoff man for the Generals worked a leadoff walk. Whitaker would balk, allowing the runner to take second base. Whitaker would strikeout the next batter. With one out and a runner on second, manager Brett Fuller opted to intentionally walk the Generals left fielder, Zach Evers. Whitaker then induced a fly out to center fielder Andrew Zban and to end the game a ground out to third baseman Trevin Esquerra.
The final line for the Cannons would read 4 runs on 5 hits with 0 errors. While the Generals line would read 3 runs on 9 hits with 3 errors.
The Cannons pulled out a great win at Waynesboro and move to 6-2 on the season, which is still best in the North division in the Valley League. The Cannons return home for a two game homestand against Harrisonburg on Tuesday and Strasburg on Wednesday. Both games are at 7 PM and the gates will open at 5:30 PM.