PURCELLVILLE, VIRGINIA—The Cannons returned home to Firemen’s Field looking to end a 2-game losing streak. After a rainout on Friday against Staunton, the Cannons were fresh and ready to go Saturday against Winchester.
The momentum was in the Cannons favor as they’ve had Winchester’s number so far, winning both games the teams have played against each other this season. Brett Fuller and his team looked to make it 3-0 and it looked good on paper, as they sent lefty ace Alex London to the mound. Winchester countered with right hander Jared Drayton. Both guys were dealing, as both teams took a 0-0 tie into the top of the fourth inning.
The Cannons ran into a little trouble in the top of the fourth, surrendering three straight hits to the first three batters of the inning. Cody Wilson led off with a single, then Nick Goode hit a shot down the left field line, that was ruled fair and Wilson came around to score the first run of the game. Alejandro Rivero would then single home Goode and advance to second on the throw home. Rivero would then tag up and advance to third on Seth Woodard’s fly out to right fielder Mitchell Painter. The final run for the Royals in the fourth, would be Rivero scoring on a wild pitch from Cannons pitcher Alex London. However, London would bounce back and retire two Royals via the strikeout.
The Cannons fought back in their half of the fourth, after two quick outs they worked back-to-back walks. That brought up catcher Onassis Matos who singled to bring home Trey McDyre, the lead runner and right behind him was Payton Marshall who scored on the fielding error by the Royals left fielder. Mitchell Painter was hit by a pitch in the next at-bat and Nolan Ritchie worked a walk. The Cannons continued to threaten with the bases loaded but could not capitalize as the Royals were able to work out of that jam, only letting two Cannons cross the plate. The score would remain 3-2 until the sixth inning.
The start to the sixth inning was a little rocky for the Cannons. Back-to-back singles were surrendered to the first two hitters. London rebounded with a strikeout and got a groundball back to him in the following at-bat, however his throw got away from him and he couldn’t get the out at second. The ball hit off of the top of Nolan Ritchie’s glove and went out to shallow center field. That allowed the runner to score to make the game 4-2 in favor of the Winchester Royals. Tom Sutera then entered the game with one out in the sixth and got a strikeout and a fly out to end the sixth. The good news for the Cannons, which they didn’t know at the time, but that would be the last run Winchester would score for the remainder of the game.
The Cannons went quietly in the sixth, only managing a single from Onassis Matos. Both the Royals and the Cannons would have quick seventh innings. Sutera continued his dominance in the top of the eighth getting two quick outs and after a defensive error Sutera managed to bounce back to get a fielder’s choice out to end the top of the eighth.
Late-game magic happened again for the Cannons, Ray Hernandez and Trey McDyre got back-to-back hits to start the Cannon eighth. Hernandez led off with a single and Trey McDyre doubled to deep right field, giving the Cannons second and third with no outs. They both would advance a base on a passed ball, Hernandez would score closing the gap to 4-3. Payton Marshall grounded out hard to the second baseman, forcing McDyre to stay at third, but Onassis Matos would pick up his teammate grounding out to the first baseman, but because he had to dive to keep the ball in the infield, McDyre was able to score to tie the game at 4.
Sutera came back out for the ninth and pitched beautifully, retiring the Royals in order 1, 2, 3. Something about late-game comebacks and wins seem to be in the Cannons blood this season. Nolan Ritchie led off the ninth with a single and then moved up to second on a balk. Andrew Zban worked a walk. The Cannons had two on and nobody out and only needed one run to win. Sheldon Reed battled hard at the plate, but ended up flying out. That brought up switch hitter Trevin Esquerra, who already singled once today, but a single here would give the Cannons the win. Esquerra battled to a 1-2 count but didn’t think that a single was dramatic enough. He took a 1-2 count and blasted it over the right-center field wall for a walkoff 3-run homerun to put the Cannons back in the win column and give them their 8th win of the season.
Dramatic comebacks seem to be a part of the Cannons winning formula this season and its worked. They still sit atop the North division in the Valley league at 8 wins and 4 losses. Tom Sutera got the win, going 3.2 innings of relief and having 4 strikeouts. Alex London pitched a great game, going 5.1 innings and having 4 strikeouts.
The Cannons will travel to New Market on Sunday at 7:30 PM, but return home to Firemen’s Field on Monday to play the Waynesboro Generals at 7 PM with gates opening at 5:30 PM.