Purcellville Cannons vs. Charlottesville TomSox DH – 7/26/2023 – By: Lauren Fulton
Well Cannons fans, the day is finally here. Today’s doubleheader against the Charlottesville TomSox marked the last day of the 2023 summer season. It was a bittersweet day, filled with many emotions. For some, this was their last summer season due to graduations and new journeys in life; and for some, this was just the beginning of lifelong friendships and potential returns to Cannon baseball next summer. No matter what the case is, the boys were able to split the day with one loss and one win to end this season, and they couldn’t have done it in a more memorable way!
The Cannons ended up losing game one of the Charlottesville doubleheader, 11-10. Since it was one of the last games this season, there were many substitutions made, and many players took on new roles! Our starting pitcher for the first game was Mac Yarbrough, (SO; Norfolk State University), who pitched for 0.2 innings, giving up 1 hit, 2 walks, and 1 earned run during his time on the mound. Our second and “losing” pitcher for the evening was newcomer Andrew Ruggeri, (FR; University of Pennsylvania), who pitched for 2.1 innings, giving up 1 hit, 3 walks, and 2 earned runs. He was then relieved by Noah Moody, (SR; Columbia International University), who pitched for 0.1 innings, giving up 4 hits, and 4 earned runs. He was then relieved by Fin Horowicz, (SO; Army West Point), who pitched for 1.1 innings, giving up 3 hits, 2 walks, and 2 more runs. Our next pitcher for the evening was Brady Drawbaugh, (SR; Mt. St. Mary’s University), who pitched for 0.2 innings, giving up 2 hits, 2 walks, and 1 more run. Our next pitcher was Justin Acal, (SR; University of Pittsburgh), who pitched for 0.1 innings, giving up 1 hit, before being relieved by none other than Bear Horowicz, (SO; Samford University). Horowicz pitched for the last inning of the game and gave up 2 hits, 2 walks, and 1 more run before the 7-inning game finally finished. Here at Fireman’s Field, we like to have fun when we can, so that’s why on this last day of the season, position players had an opportunity to have some fun on the mound and help their team out.
Offensively speaking for the Cannons, there were a few players who stepped up big at the plate to keep the score close all the way until the end. Mikey Brinton, (JR; University of Arkansas Fort Smith), went 2 for 5 with a walk, setting himself up nicely, and scoring 2 RBIs for the Cannons. Keegan Knuston, (SO; San Jacinto College North), also went 2 for 4, with just 1 RBI to keep the momentum going for the boys. Bear Horowicz and Jo Eichelberger each walked away from the game one matchup with 3 RBIs proving their capability as a solid part of the lineup. The offense was electric throughout the game, continually putting up more and more runs to secure a double-digit close game loss to the TomSox, in preparation for the win in the second game.
Our defense for the night remained as it has been for the past couple of weeks, with position players who have proven their worth defensively throughout the summer. Our catcher for the evening was Jack McDonald, (SR; Wilmington University), at first base was Bear Horowicz, at second base was Brayden Caskey, (JR; Arkansas State University), at shortstop was Mitsuki Kohno, (JR; Sierra CC), and at third base was Keegan Knuston. Our outfielders for the evening began with Jackson Micheels, (JR; University of Purdue Fort Wayne), in left field, Daryl Buggs (2nd) (SR; University of Alabama Birmingham), in center field, and Jo Eichelberger, (JR; Jackson State University) in right field. Almost everyone on defense shifted during tonight’s game, so during the final inning of game one, almost everyone had moved around. However, each player played their positions very well and executed the defense necessary to back up the pitcher’s lack of success on the mound.
The starting pitcher for game two of the doubleheader against the TomSox was Jabbari Smith, (SR; undecided), who pitched for 2 innings, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs during his time on the mound. First in relief was our “winning” pitcher, Isaac Kopalchick, (JR; Elgin Community College), who pitched for 2.1 innings, giving up 2 hits, and gaining 3 strikeouts. Kopalchick was the only pitcher during the evening who didn’t allow any runs to score during his time on the mound, proving his increased development throughout the summer. Our next pitcher was Daniel Keane, (SR; Shepherd University), who pitched for 1.2 innings, giving up 2 hits, with 1 earned run and 4 strikeouts. Our final pitcher for the evening was Matthew Reuscher, (JR; Elgin Community College), who pitched for the final inning of tonight’s game, giving up 3 hits, and 2 earned runs. Thankfully the remaining pitchers on the Cannons staff were able to come in and perform well for the final game in the 2023 season, and helped lead the team to a 9-7 win over the TomSox.
The offense for the second game continued to build off of the momentum created in the first game, with players stepping up to secure the final win of the season. Brayden Caskey once again went 2 for 5 with a walk, demonstrating exactly the kind of presence the leadoff hitter is supposed to have at the plate. Jackson Dalena, (SO; Shippensburg University), also had a night at the plate going 3 for 5, with 1 walk, and 3 RBIs, making him the most dominant player in the lineup for the second game. Jose Torres also had 2 hits on the evening, also securing 2 RBIs, just as he has done all season. By the end of the game, the Cannons had gained 8 hits and manufactured 9 runs to finish the season off with a much-needed win.
The defense for the second game was designed for success. Our catcher for the second game was none other than Jose Torres, (SR; University of Louisiana Lafayette), at first base was Bear Horowicz, playing second was Brayden Caskey, at short stop was Justin Acal, and rounding off the infield was Keegan Knuston at third base. Our outfielders for the final game began with Brady Drawbaugh in left field, Mikey Brinton in center field, and Jo Eichelberger in right field. There was one very special aspect of tonight’s final game, and it was something Coach Fuller had been waiting for, for a long time. Mikey Brinton has spent three summers as a Cannon, and he has proven time and again what a versatile athlete he can be. So, to make his last summer as a Cannon special, he played all nine positions on the field, throughout the summer. His final position he needed to “scratch off the list” for the summer was catcher, so for the final inning of the game, he caught and completed his quest to field all nine positions. Brinton is the only Cannon in history to ever do so, and Coach Fuller said that there was, “no one more deserving than Mikey”, due to his hard work over the years.
I had always figured this day would come one way or another, and even though I was expecting it, it still doesn’t feel real. This summer flew by faster than anyone could’ve ever imagined! The Cannons team we had on June 1st versus the Cannons team we had on July 27th is almost completely different player-wise, but with each new arrival came a new player who made this team better, one way or another. The Purcellville Cannons is a special organization – there’s no doubt about it. You can feel it when you step through the front gates of Fireman’s Field, and you can hear it when each staff member has the privilege to speak with any true Cannon fan. As a staff, we would just like to once again say thank you for all of your incredible support this season. Win or lose, we always win with you on our side. This summer was filled with uncertainty from weather delays, new players, vacations, etc, but through it all, you as our fans remained consistent, and for that, we cannot say thank you enough.
Folks, it has been a pleasure being the staff writer for you all this season. It truly has been the experience of a lifetime, and I’m sad to see it go. I don’t know what the future holds, but I sincerely hope to see all of you once again at some point next season. As always, thank you, and Go Cannons!