PURCELLVILLE, VIRGINIA-- Prior to a lengthy rain delay at Fireman's Field on Monday night, a 3-run home run by newcomer Tyler Ratliff in the bottom of the first gave the Purcellville Cannons a 3-0 lead over the Charlottesville Tom Sox (7-13), a lead they would keep for the remainder of the contest in route to a 5-2 victory that snapped a 3-game losing streak.
While the skies opened up after Ratliff's first bomb of the season and caused a rain delay, the three runs provided by the hit would be all that Cannons' starter Brandon Caples would need to earn his second victory of the season and strengthen his All-Star bid.
After allowing a season-high six earned runs in his last start -- a 7-5 loss at Harrisonburg on June 21st-- Caples had his best stuff when he took the mound against the Tom Sox, tossing the first complete game of the season for Purcellville, yielding just one earned run on seven hits and striking out six. In four starts this season, Caples has pitched 8-plus innings three times and has pitched into the seventh inning in all four.
After allowing an unearned run to cross in the top of the second to make it a 3-1 game, Caples settled in, allowing just three hits from innings 3 through 8. The Alabama State product producted retired 11 straight at one point, a streak that was broken with one out in the ninth inning on a base hit by designated hitter Dan Wondrack.
The Tom Sox threatened in the game's final frame when Wondrack came around to score on a single by Tony Giannini to make it 5-2, but on the play, right fielder Ray Hernandez was able to throw a perfect strike to catcher Matt Reed at home to nail Mitchell Webb for the second out of the inning. After a walk to Brandt Frazier, Caples struck out Dupree Hart on a 3-2 fastball to nail down the Cannons' sixth victory of the season.
Hernandez may have found a home in right field. He had two outfield assists in the victory, giving him four in the last 4 games, and made a sliding catch to rob Ben Socher of a single to leadoff the 8th inning. At the plate, Hernandez smacked an RBI double to score Reed in the fifth inning to cap off the Cannons' scoring on the night and extend his hitting streak to 15 games.
On top of his 3-run bomb in the first inning, Ratliff knocked a leadoff double in the fourth to the left field wall and came around to score after a SAC bunt by Eriq White and an RBI ground out by Wade Arduini to put Purcellville up 4-1.
Adding stability and protection in the lineup, Ratliff is 4 for 8 in two games for the Cannons with a homer, two doubles, two runs scored and four RBI.
In his first start at Fireman's Field this summer, Charlottesville starter Matt Olson tossed 7 shutout innings as the Tom Sox blanked the Cannons, 5-0, on June 4th. Monday was a different story, however, as Olson was charged with five earned runs over just four innings, earning him his second loss of the year.
Having returned home to end a 3-game skid, the Cannons (6-15) will once again look to end their road woes when they take on the Woodstock River Bandits at Central HS on Tuesday night.
Left-hander Zach Sloan gets the start for the Cannons. In three starts this season, Sloan is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA. In his last appearance on June 20th, the Buffalo, New York native was handed his lone decision of the season when he allowed four earned runs over three innings in a 5-1 loss at Covington.
Sloan's counterpart for Woodstock is right-hander Zachary Perkins, who is 0-1 with a 7.10 ERA so far this summer. Perkins' last outing was his best, a 5-inning, 2-run performance at Strasburg on June 19th that ultimately gave him a no-decision in an 8-7 Woodstock loss.
The Cannons are just 1-10 in away affairs this season and have lost 8 straight.
First pitch is scheduled for 8:00 pm.