STAUNTON, VIRGINIA—After a rainout canceled the Military Appreciation Day game, and also saw 4/5 games canceled around the Valley League, the Cannons were back in action on Thursday. They would take on the Staunton Braves and look to end their 3-game losing streak and get back in the win column.
Getting the task of putting the Cannons back in the win column was, left-handed pitcher Andy Crum, who would be looking for his third win of the season and fourth straight quality start. He would be taking on right-hander Deacon Medders, who was looking for his second win of the season.
In the top of the first, Medders sent the Cannons down in order and didn’t seem to break a sweat. However, things started out rocky for the Cannons and Andy Crum in the bottom of the first. Max Wood started out the game for the Braves with a single and then stole second base. Payton Robertson would hit a double and score Wood from second. After a single to Richard Miller and then a double steal, putting runners on second and third Crum struck out the next two Braves hitters and then induced a groundball out to retire the side and only give up one run.
Medders came back out and although he didn’t send the Cannons down in order, he managed to avoid trouble. Onassis Matos reached first on a throwing error and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Kyle Ouellette singled and put runners on first and third with only one out. Andy Szamski came up and hit a groundball back to the pitcher, Matos tried to score but was thrown out. The Cannons would head to the bottom of the second still trailing 1-0. Andy Crum rebounded in a big way for the Cannons. He retired the next 11 hitters in a row and kept the Cannons in the game.
The game wasn’t tied until the fifth inning when Trey McDyre singled, and Gabriel Castillo doubled to put runners on second and third with no outs. With one out, Trevin Esquerra came up big, delivering a sac fly to score McDyre and tie the game up at 1. The game would stay that way until the seventh. Andy Crum would be relieved of pitching duties in the sixth. Crum would finish with 5 innings pitched, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, and 8 strikeouts (season high). Tom Sutera would take over and pitch 3 innings, giving up 3 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts.
In the top of the seventh, Andy Szamski would start off with a double. Trey McDyre would sacrifice Szamski over to third. Gabriel Castillo would work a walk and put runners on first and third with one out. During Nolan Ritchie’s at-bat, new pitcher Derek Duffy threw a wild pitch that allowed Szamski to score from third and give the Cannons a 2-1 lead. Ritchie would single and bring home Castillo from second to make the score 3-1 Cannons. Tom Sutera’s seventh inning was a bit uncharacteristic for him. Sutera gave up a leadoff single to Austin Edens. After inducing a pop up, Sutera surrendered a single and a walk to load the bases with one out. Braves left fielder, Kam Lane hit a sac fly to score one run and make the score 3-2 Cannons. Sutera managed to get one more out via a pop out to Trevin Esquerra at first.
The eighth inning went quietly for both teams. The Cannons went three up and three down, while Sutera surrendered a leadoff single but managed to get a strikeout and then a lineout to Trevin Esquerra at first, which resulted in an inning ending double play. We went to the ninth in Staunton with the Cannons leading the Braves 3-2.
The Cannons had the lead, but opportunities presented themselves for the Cannons to add runs and they took full advantage. Kyle Ouellette led off with a hard single. Andy Szamski would sacrifice Ouellette to second and he would then move to third on a wild pitch. With two outs, Gabriel Castillo hit a single to score Ouellette from third and make the score 4-2. In the bottom of the ninth, manager Brett Fuller turned to his All-Star closer and Valley League saves leader, Dalton Whitaker. After getting a fly out to start the inning, pinch hitter Brendan Cutting was able to work a walk. He then stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Whitaker didn’t let any of that faze him as he bounced back to strikeout the final two hitters of the inning and preserve the 16th win of the season for the Cannons and notch his 5th save.
The Cannons move to 16-10 on the season and because Front Royal was rained out, the lead in the North for the Cannons goes to 1.5 games. Friday, they return home to Fireman’s Field to play the Battle of First Place Teams II as this will be the second meeting between the Charlottesville TomSox and the Purcellville Cannons this season. Purcellville looks to even the score as they were bested 8-4 on June 30th at Fireman’s Field. Game time for Friday July 7th is 7 PM with gates opening at 5:30 PM.