By: Scoop Carter
LURAY- The Woodstock River Bandits limped into Bulldog Field on Saturday night to face the recently crowned Northern Division Champs, the Luray Wranglers. Woodstock owner Stu Richardson went down the list of his players that already had to head back to school before the first pitch. Brooks Robinson, Adalberto Santos, Mark Goforth, Trevor Decker and Grant Escue were among the River Bandits that were on their way home but Stu and manager Donn Foltz still had Brach Davis from Memphis University.
Kory Hollensteiner walked to lead off the top of the first inning and was sacrificed over to second base by Drew Lowry. Hollensteiner swiped third base on a bang-bang play and came around the score on a throwing error. Woodstock scored the games first run without the benefit of a base hit off Luray starter Donald Jordat and the game remained hit less until the top of the third inning.
Cody Brown led off the top of the third with a walk and came around to score the second River Bandit run on a single by Ty Wright (Ga. Southern). Jordat recovered to strike out the next to batters to avoid further damage.
Davis entered the contest with a 2-3 record and an ERA of 4.29 for the season. The lefty was making his ninth appearance and eighth and final start for Woodstock. Adam McClain (Memphis) sent a fly ball deep to center field off his Tiger school mate but the next four Wranglers were all strike out victims and Davis went through the line-up 9 up and 9 down over the first three innings.
McClain walked and Josh Wright reached on an error to give Luray runners on the corner in the fourth with one out but Davis once again retired the next two batters to keep the score 2-0 after four innings. Mike Marshall (Stanford) pushed the lead to 3-0 for the visitors when the freshman homered to lead off the seventh inning off Alex Wiesner.
Wiesner (Wake Forrest) followed Jordat to the mound in the sixth inning after Jordat surrendered 2 runs on just one hit. Wiesner allowed two more singles but ended the threat by getting a 6-4-3 double play to keep Luray (30-13) in the contest.
Davis recorded (2,2,1,1,2,2) 10 strike outs over the first six innings but with double digit K's comes a high pitch count. Davis pitched around a second error in the fifth but this time it was his own. Alex Foltz hit a three hopper back to Davis but he couldn't field the ball cleanly but he stranded Foltz on first base. The play was originally ruled a hit but was later changed to an error by the offical scorer in the eighth inning.
Davis wrapped two more K's around his second walk of the game in the bottom of the eighth inning but the pitch that retired McClain on a fly ball to center was pitch #122 for the night.
Marshall led off the top of the ninth with his second straight solo home run and this time Cole Shelton (another Memphis Tiger) connected for back-to-back dingers. The lead was out to 5-0 and Foltz went to his bullpen to close out the victory.
Kirby St. John went to the mound looking for three final outs that would bring an end to Woodstock's nine game losing streak. Luray received good news when the final score was announced from Staunton were the Braves defeated the Waynesboro Generals 6-1. The score meant the Wranglers would claim the VBL's overall #1 seed if they could go from hitless to UN-stoppable in just one inning.
Mike Bocock went to his bench to lead off the bottom of the ninth and Ryan Schimpf (LSU) hit a ball off the end bat and it squirted out of the infield to end the no-hitter. Jeff Jefferson (Liberty U.) followed with a flair to center and the makings of a rally had begun. Gus Miller (Ohio State) followed with a one out, two run double to make the score 5-2 and the crowd was ready for more.
Two outs and the tying run came to the plate in Steve Stropp (Florida International). Stropp has the ability to tie the game with just one swing and then it happened...
A number of people talk about the short porch in left field (310 feet) at Bulldog Field but Stropp turned on a pitch that would of left Yankee Stadium. The fair/foul pole down the left field line is only about 10 feet tall and Stropp hit a ball that was 40 feet high... A thrilling 3-run homer or a really,really,really long foul ball ?
The final went into the books as 5-2 after Stropp was retired but for a night a Woodstock pitcher flirted with history and a Wrangler batter flirted with a Home Run that would of grown by 20 feet every time the story was told...