By: Scoop Carter
NEW MARKET- Two University of Florida products led the way for New Market (11-22) as the home standing Rebels made it two out of three wins in Valley Baseball League action with a 6-2 victory over Winchester Monday night at Rebel Park.
Riley Cooper (Florida) went 3 of 4 with a solo home run and a pair of singles to back the pitching of Brandon Holloway (Bluefield). Holloway worked 7 innings and limited the Royals (18-15) to just two runs while scattering six hits. Fellow Gator Michael Mooney added a pair of singles, driving in one run and scoring another as the duo accounted for four of the six Rebel runs.
Cooper and Mooney gave Holloway an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Cooper singled to push Will Davis over to second base. Davis (Penn) had reached on a fielders choice and when Brent Weiss followed Cooper with another single the Rebels took a 1-0 lead. Mooney made it two straight RBI singles against Winchester starter John Leonard (Boston College) before Leonard recorded one of his 7 strike outs to hold the lead at 2-0.
Cooper homered with two outs in the fourth inning to push the lead to 3-0 but Winchester would eventually break through against Holloway. Tyler Kirkpatrick (Western Carolina) led off the fifth inning with a single and Royals skipper John Lowery Jr. elected to play some small ball.
Grant Simotes (Western Michigan) laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that he beat out for a infield single leading Lowery to have Chris Berset follow with another sac bunt to move two runners into scoring position. Gino Matias ripped a shot to right field but the ball was hit right at Kevein Dietrich. Dietrich made the play but both runners tagged and Kirkpatrick crossed the plate to trim the lead to 3-1.
Tyler Townsend (Florida International) leads the VBL in home runs and when he lead off the top of the sixth inning he launched a missile over the trees in right field. The ball left the park in a matter of three or four seconds and landed somewhere near Smith Creek. Mickey Wiswall followed with a riffle shot to center field for a single that brought Rebel pitching coach Rick Smith to the mound to settle down his starter.
The advice Smith gave Holloway worked as the Rebels turned a double play to start a streak of seven straight Royals retired and the lead was safe at 3-2. Rebel skipper Nolan Neiman coached the bottom of the seventh aggressively and it led to 3 insurance runs for his team.Davis led off the inning and was awarded first base after being hit with a pitch by Leonard. That would prove to be the last pitch Leonard would throw for the contest as Lowery went to his bullpen for reliever Chris Rigo.
Neiman countered by sending Brandon Kirsch (NW Missouri State) in to pinch run for Davis and then sent Kirsch running. The hit and run worked to perfection and when the throw towards third base went into the Rebel dugout, Kirsch came home and Cooper was awarded second base. The throwing error on the play kept Cooper was picking up another RBI or the Gators would have accounted for five of the six Rebels runs.
Neiman was not through running yet and when Brent Weiss walked he quickly stole second base. The throw on the play looked to beat Weiss but the slide knocked the ball loose. Mooney followed with a sharp single to right field to plate Weiss and make the score 6-2 and the Rebels relievers held the Royals at bay for the remainder of the game.
Tyler Thornburg (Charleston Southern) pitched the eighth inning for Winchester and retired the Rebels in order. One at bat was one of the most amazing I have seen all season where Thornburg went 92 MPH fastball, 90 MPH fastball and strike three was a 71 MPH off speed pitch. There is no need to name the batter here because Alex Rodriguez would of had his hands full with Thornburg during that 3 pitch at bat. New Market pulled to within 2 & 1/2 games of idle Haymarket in the chase for the final playoff spot.
Not that I got all serious for a bit let me tell you that Tim Tassa of the NVD wrote a real gamer and you can catch it at http://www.nvdaily.com/ in a few hours. It is always good to see Tim at the ball park as it was to see Damon Dillman of TV-3 out of Harrisonburg. Can I now go back to having some fun with photos and stories ?