PURCELLVILLE, VIRGINIA—The Cannons were coming off an extra innings road win at Waynesboro and looked to take that momentum back home against Harrisonburg. The last time the Cannons played the Harrisonburg Turks was on June 8th at Harrisonburg and Purcellville came away with the road win 8-3.
Sean Gabel started on the bump for the Cannons and pitched terrific today. He went through the first inning unscathed even though two Turks hitters would reach base via the error. Monday was a nice defensive game for the Cannons, as they had zero errors. In the first inning against the Turks, they would have two.
In the bottom of the first, Nolan Ritchie led off the game with a single and then stole second base during Raul Cabrera’s at-bat. After, Cabrera bunted Ritchie over to third. With one out and a runner on third, Sheldon Reed came up and grounded out to the second baseman, but Ritchie would score and put the Cannons up 1-0. From that moment on, the Cannons were not behind. Today was a day that the Cannons’ bats were awake from the first pitch until the last out.
In the second inning, the Turks would go down quietly only having one base runner that inning, and the Cannons would go down in order 1, 2, 3. Gabel pitched another great inning in the top of the third, again only allowing one base runner. The bottom of the third went quickly for the Cannons as they went down in order again 1, 2, 3.
In Gabel’s first start with the Cannons, he only managed to go 4.2 innings. He didn’t show signs of slowing down at all, he retired the Turks in order in the fourth and in the bottom of the fourth, got more run support from his offense. Raul Cabrera started the inning out by getting plunked by an off-speed pitch. Sheldon Reed would ground to the second baseman who threw Cabrera out at second, but Reed made it safe to first. With one out and a runner on first, designated hitter Ray Hernandez stepped up and delivered a huge one-out double that would score Reed from first. Andrew Zban singled, which put Hernandez on third. Zban then stole second during Kyle Ouellette’s at-bat. Ouellette battled but unfortunately struck out on a big breaking ball from Turks starter Rhett Willis. Trey McDyre came to bat and delivered a two-out, two-RBI single that scored Hernandez from third and Zban from second. The Cannons would head to the top of the fifth leading 4-0.
Sean Gabel’s night against the Turks was far different than his start against Front Royal. Gabel would go 6 innings against the Turks, allowing only 4 hits, giving up 0 runs earned and unearned. He also struck out 4 and walked nobody. This is the kind of pitching the Cannons need throughout this 14-game stretch, and just the kind of starting pitching manager Brett Fuller is looking for from his starting rotation.
Gabel’s fifth and sixth innings of work would be almost identical. The fifth would start out with a strikeout. After a one-out single, the defense stepped up big time, getting a 6-4-3 double play to end the top half of the fifth. Purcellville would be retired in order in the bottom half of the fifth, after Mitchell Painter led off with a single, but was thrown out trying to steal second.
Harrisonburg would again go quietly in the sixth, getting a two-out single, but immediately had their next batter retired to end the top half of the sixth. In the bottom of the sixth, the Cannons would put together a very dangerous threat. The Cannons started off their half of the sixth with three singles in a row from Sheldon Reed, Ray Hernandez, and Andrew Zban. Nobody would score, but they would move up a base at a time. Kyle Ouellette drew a bases loaded walk that would bring in Reed from third. However, the Turks brought in a new pitcher, Eric Yankey who would retire the next three Cannons to end the inning and the threat. At the end of 6, the Cannons led 5-0.
Tom Sutera came in to the game in the seventh, and he continued to show why he’s a big anchor in that bullpen. Sutera pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth inning, while striking out three Turks hitters. In the eighth for the Cannons, Ray Hernandez led off with another double. Kyle Ouellette would then hit a hard groundball to the shortstop, but was screened by Ray Hernandez causing the ball to go through the shortstop’s legs and into the outfield. Hernandez would score easily pushing the game to 6-0. Kyle Ouellette was able to reach first, he would score on a Beaux Guilbeau fly ball to centerfield which was misplayed and Guilbeau would reach third as a result. The Cannons would strand Guilbeau at third but would head to the top of the ninth with a commanding lead 7-0.
Trey Alderman was brought in for the ninth and he handled it perfectly. Alderman struck out two Turks hitters and would only surrender one hit. Purcellville improves to 7 wins and 2 losses on the season and remain on top of the North division in the Valley League.
The Cannons are at home again tomorrow against the Strasburg Express. First pitch is at 7 PM with the gates opening up at 5:30 PM.