By: Shelby Dermer (Cannons' broadcaster and beat writer)
The Purcellville Cannons finished their first season in Loudoun County with a record of 19 wins and 25 losses, losing in the quarterfinals of the playoffs to the defending VBL-champion Strasburg Express.
Here are the Top-5 moments from the 2016 season:
5.) Ratliff's big night starts winning streak
The Cannons had lost 14 of their last 16 road games when they traveled to Charlottesville to take on the Tom Sox on July 20th. Needing a victory to keep pace in the playoff race, Purcellville fell behind early after the Tom Sox opened the scoring with two runs in the bottom of the first frame.
Third baseman Tyler Ratliff (Marshall University) got the Cannons on the board with a sacrifice fly in the top of the third, then Ray Hernandez tied the game at two on a home run in the sixth.
Ratliff came back to the plate in the seventh with two outs and broke the tied affair with a 3-run home run off Charlottesville reliever Freddie Sultan to give the Cannons' a 5-2 advantage.
Two innings later, Ratliff delivered the dagger in the ball game with a leadoff homer in the ninth off Justin Novak to push Purcellville's lead to four. They would go on to win the game, 7-2, with Ratliff knocking in a season-high five runs.
Ratliff joined teammate Eriq White as the two members of the team to tally multi-home run games during the 2016 season.
The victory over Charlottesville started a 5-game winning streak for the Cannons that helped them edge the Rebels of New Market for the fourth and final playoff spot in the VBL North division.
After joining the Cannons on June 26th, Ratliff would go on to hit .400 with 22 RBIs and a team-high four home runs in the final 20 games of the regular season and knocked in a run in the team's season-ending loss to Strasburg on July 31st.
4.) London tosses gem in Cannons' lone shutout
Left-handed hurler Alex London (Mississippi State) was 0-1 with a 5.00 ERA in his first four starts of the season when he was scheduled to take the mound at home against the Front Royal Cardinals on July 3rd.
After lasting less than five innings in three consecutive outings prior to the matchup against the Cardinals, London saved his best for the hometown crowd at Fireman's Field.
London allowed just one hit and struck out six over seven shutout innings, while shortstop Raul Cabrera provided the game's only run with an RBI single in the sixth that scored Onassis Matos.
Closer Will Reed would come on to toss the final two scoreless frames to nail down the save and a 1-0 Cannons' win, which would be their lone shutout victory of the season. Reed finished the regular season with a division-best seven saves.
The victory was the second of a 4-game home winning streak for the Cannons. They would finish the regular-season slate by winning nine of their final 10 games at Fireman's Field in the month of July.
3.) Cannons clinch playoff spot in win over Winchester
The Cannons' magic number was down to just one heading into their final two games of the season. Needing just one win or one New Market loss to clinch a playoff berth, the Cannons hosted the Winchester Royals, who had locked down the number two seed in the division.
While New Market was beating the Woodstock River Bandits to keep the postseason rase close, the Cannons led 1-0 in the first but broke the game open by adding three runs in the bottom of the third on an RBI walk from Wade Arduini, a fielder's choice by Matt Reed and a run-scoring single by Tommy Ziegen.
Winchester cut the lead to 4-2 on a 2-run home run by Kevin Fuller in the fourth, but Purcellville put the game away on RBI knocks by Cabrera and Ratliff in the sixth. Will Reed struck out two in the 9th inning to nail down the save and clinch the Cannons a spot in the playoffs as the number-four seed.
2.) Cannons' walk-off over New Market
Purcellville faced a 2-game deficit to the Rebels when they came to town on Sunday, July 17th for a must-win game. A loss would put the Cannons three games down with only seven to go.
After losing the night before to Front Royal by a 12-1 score, the Cannons fell behind 2-0 when New Market scored once in the third and fourth inning.
A fielder's choice groundout by Denathan Dukes put the Cannons on the board in the bottom of the sixth, but they still trailed by one following the 7th-inning stretch. With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, pinch-hitter DeAndre Amion lined a base hit off reliever Brandon Miller that scored Hernandez and tied the game at two.
After two scoreless innings, the game went into a 10th inning, the first extra-inning affair of the season for the Cannons. In the bottom of the 10th, pinch-runner Jarrett Clymer raced home on a wild pitch from Matt Oset to give the Cannons' a 3-2 walk-off victory.
The Cannons would defeat the Rebels six days later to open up their lead to eventually clinch a playoff spot.
1.) Cannons win home-opener
After losing their first game of the season in Front Royal, the Cannons hosted the New Market Rebels in their first game of the summer at Fireman's Field on June 3rd.
Purcellville broke a 2-2 tie with four runs in the bottom of the sixth, the biggest knock being a 2-run single by Clymer. However, New Market rallied, scoring three times off reliever Malik Jones in the seventh and once off Matt Reed in the 8th to tie the game at 6. With the score evened at six in the bottom of the 8th, outfielder DeAires Moses, who would be drafted one week later by the Seattle Mariners, wheeled around to score on an infield single by PJ Harris to give the Cannons a 7-6 lead.
In the top of the ninth, Will Reed set down the Rebels in order to record the first win in Purcellville Cannons' history.
Purcellville would go on to host 21 more games at Fireman's Field the rest of the season and would end up leading the Valley League in total attendance.