Staunton News Leader
Written by Ron Hartlaub
STAUNTON — Close games have been the norm during the first week of the Valley Baseball League season for the Staunton Braves.
For the fourth time in four tries, Staunton participated in a one-run contest, dropping a 1-0 decision to Harrisonburg on Wednesday night at John Moxie Memorial Stadium.
The Braves wasted an outstanding pitching performance from starter Jerry Stuckey, who hurled eight innings of shutout ball. He held the Turks to four hits and no walks, while striking out five.
“That’s what you ask for out of your pitcher every night, to be that aggressive and attack the hitters,” Staunton manager Paul LaMarr said. “He was the best that I’ve seen in three years here.”
“I couldn’t have done it without my defense,” said the right-hander from Georgia State. “I didn’t have many strikeouts. I just let them put the ball in play. I wish we had came away with a win, but the kid on the other team (Joe Charest) had a heck of a game and pitched just as well.”
Charest tossed 8 1-3 scoreless innings before turning things over to the bullpen.
Joshua Karr got the final two outs in the ninth to earn the save.
Staunton had its opportunities to break through against Charest, putting at least one runner on base in seven different innings. They got the leadoff man on during the first three frames, but never advanced him past second base.
“I thought (Harrisonburg) made a couple of big plays and a couple of calls didn’t go our way,” LaMarr said. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to do a little better job with runners in scoring position. We’ve struggled a little so far in the early going.”
In the sixth inning, a pair of walks, sandwiched around a Ryan Stephens single, loaded the bases with two outs. Spencer Angelis lined out deep to right to end the threat.
The Braves had another golden opportunity in the seventh. Ricky Santiago led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second. Ben Verlander looped a single to right that moved Santiago to third, but Verlander was picked off first on the throw back to the infield. A groundout left Santiago stranded and the game scoreless.
Ryan Lee led off the ninth for the Turks by beating out an infield single against Staunton reliever Luke Leeth. A sacrifice bunt, a balk and a wild pitch brought Lee around with the only run of the contest.
The Braves (2-2) hosts Waynesboro 7:30 p.m. tonight at Moxie Stadium.
HARRISONBURG 000 000 001 — 1 6 0 STAUNTON 000 000 000 — 0 6 0 Charest, Karr (9) and Mason. Stuckey, Leeth (9), Huffman (9) and Angelis. W — Charest. L — Leeth. SV — Karr. HR — none.