Written By Jackson Campbell
FRONT ROYAL, VA – Opportunistic hitting, aggressive base running, and a top notch bullpen performance helped Front Royal end Harrisonburg’s six game winning streak Saturday night at Bing Crosby Stadium.
Stephen Xirinachs (Massachusetts Lowell) got the start and the win for the Cardinals, moving him to 4-1 with a 1.86 ERA this summer. He struck out four and allowed just three hits in six innings against the Turks, and had the Turks behind his fastball all night. The only earned run of the night came off the bat of Tripp Shelton who took Xirinachs deep on the third pitch of the game.
Unfortunately for Harrisonburg, Xirinachs and the rest of the Cardinals pitching staff locked in after the blast from Shelton. Brandon Valentin (St. Thomas), Jared Drayton (Alabama St.) and Joseph Catalani (Hagerstown CC) combined to throw three innings and give up just one hit between them.
Donnie Sellers (Wake Forest) got his second start for the Turks and is now 1-1. He went six innings with three hits and three earned runs, and fanned seven. Chris Farish (Wake Forest) and Connor Clark (Wingate) finished the game, and yielded seven runs to put the game out of reach in the eighth inning.
The Cardinals broke out of their recent offensive struggles late in the game but for the most part, this was a very close game throughout that got away in the last two innings. The Turks have won six of their last eight and remain tied with Waynesboro for first place in the south, and if it were not for a couple of base running mistakes in the middle of the game that stranded potential runs, Harrisonburg likely would have given the game over to their relievers with a slight lead.
It was an intriguing battle, with the Cardinals boasting the best team ERA in the league and the Turks holding the best team batting average, and Front Royal got the best of this first match up between the two teams.
Front Royal is now 10-8, good for third in the North behind Strasburg and Winchester. The Strasburg Express will bring their league leading 14-5 record to Veterans Memorial Park Sunday night at 7:30 to face the Turks (13-6). This will be the third and final meeting of the two teams this summer, with the Express having taken the first two.