By Shelby Dermer (Cannons’ broadcaster and beat writer)
The Purcellville Cannons scored twice in the ninth inning at Veterans Memorial Park to defeat the Harrisonburg Turks, 3-2, on Wednesday night.
After being shuout through the first six frames, back-to-back doubles by Tyler Ratliff and Colton Lightner off Turks’ starter Donte Lindsay tied the game at one in the seventh inning.
Lindsay, a member of the 2015 Cannons of Charles Town, West Virginia, had his best outing of the season, allowing just one run on four hits and striking out 11 batters over seven innings, but left with a no-decision after Lightner’s game-tying double.
Purcellville starter Matt Copley joined Lindsay in a pitchers’ duel for most of the game. After allowing an RBI triple to Trevor Craport to give Harrisonburg a 1-0 lead in the first, Copley settled in, yielding just one more hit over six straight scoreless frames. He, too, would leave with a no-decision, but has posted a 1.80 ERA over his last three appearances.
Harrisonburg broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning on an error by Lightner in the field. The unearned run was charged to Matt Reed, but his cousin, Will, was able to come on in relieve and struck out Bryan Arias on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded to keep the Cannons within striking distance.
Facing left-handed Turks’ reliever Eric Yankey in the ninth, the Cannons loaded the bases and a bloop single by pinch-hitter Onassis Matos scored Ratliff to tie the game at two. One batter later, Lightner came around to score the winning run on a passed ball.
Will Reed worked around a lead off walk in the bottom of the frame to close out the Turks and pick up his team-leading third victory of the season.
With the win, the Cannons improve to just 3-13 on the road this season.
Purcellville remains one game back of New Market for the fourth and final playoff spot in the VBL North after the Rebels defeated the Front Royal Cardinals, 6-2, on Wednesday.
An enormous win over the division-leading Turks is just what the Cannons (12-19) needed as they return home to Fireman’s Field to play three of their next four games, a venue they are 9-6 at this season.
On Thursday, the Cannons return home against the North-leading Strasburg Express (22-9), who lead all the Valley League in victories and winning percentage (0.710).
A pair of Mississippi State products will face off against each other when the Cannons host the Express on Thursday. RHP Keegan James gets the nod for Strasburg. An All-Star this season, James is 1-0 with a 1.76 ERA in three starts. In one outing against Purcellville this summer, James allowed one run over a 5-inning span and didn’t factor into the final decision in a 5-3 Strasburg victory on June 18th.
Southpaw Alex London gets the ball for the Cannons, looking to build off his last outing, a 7-inning, 1-hit shutout of Front Royal on July 3rd, a 1-0 Purcellville victory. In five starts this season, London is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA.
The Cannons are 1-3 against the defending VBL-champion Express this season, with their lone victory coming at home, 4-1, on June 14th.