PURCELLVILLE, VIRGINIA—After a rainout pushed the start of the playoffs for the Cannons (26-16) and Royals (21-21) back one day, the sun was shining over Fireman’s Field and both teams were ready to start the playoffs. Thanks to some outstanding pitching and clutch hitting from Brodie Leftridge and Lamar Briggs, the Cannons came away with the 5-3 opening night win to grab game one of the playoffs.
On the mound to start for the Cannons was Andy Crum (3-2) in seven starts during the regular season. Winchester continued to carry their hot hitting into the playoffs. The last meeting of the regular season, the Royals beat the Cannons 10-2. They scored two runs in the top of the first on Sunday to take an early lead.
On the mound for the Royals was Kyle Pierce (2-1), who made a mix of starts and relief appearances this season. Early on, Pierce was dicing through the Cannons lineup and was virtually unhittable. The first punch the Cannons were able to land was a solo homerun by Nolan Ritchie to cut the lead 2-1 in the bottom of the third.
Crum bounced back after that first inning to keep the score 2-1, but in the third, the Royals were able to add one more run to make the score 3-1. Andy kept the Cannons in the game, and pitched lights out until the sixth inning. Tom Sutera came out to relieve Andy in the sixth inning, Andy would finish at five innings pitched, five hits allowed, three runs (two earned), two walks, and five strikeouts. After a flyout for the first out in the sixth, Sutera went on an incredible streak that lasted until the final out of the game.
Kyle Pierce kept the Cannons’ bats at bay until the seventh inning, where the Cannons had a big inning to mount a comeback. Trey McDyre led off with a single, during the at-bat of Andy Szamski, McDyre advanced to second on a wild pitch. Andy walked, to put runners on first and second. Nolan Ritchie singled to load the bases. Pierce would strike out Jake Goodreau for the first out, but newcomer Brodie Leftridge doubled down the left field line to bring in two runs and tie the game at 3. Pierce would be lifted for left-handed reliever Jared LaCagnina. LaCagnina would get Trevin Esquerra out, the first batter he would face. However, another “newbie” to the team, Lamar Briggs, playing in his sixth game with the Cannons, hit a two-RBI single to make the score 5-3 in favor of the Cannons.
The score would remain 5-3 and the Cannons would get the win, but Tom Sutera went on an impressive streak to finish the game. When Sutera entered in the sixth inning, his first out was a fly out. He then struck out the final 11 hitters of the game. Tom finished with four innings pitched, no hits or runs allowed, no walks, and 11 strikeouts. He also came away with the win.
The Cannons lead the series 1-0 against Winchester and will play at Jim Barnett Park on Monday. With Strasburg beating New Market on Sunday, that series is tied 1-1. The Cannons will return home on Tuesday to either play Winchester in the final game of the series, or the winner of the New Market/Strasburg game on Monday.