By Matt Davis, Purcellville Cannons
The Cannons traveled to Strasburg to take on the two-time Valley League Champions on their home turf. The Cannons were looking to add to their winning streak and end their losing streak to Strasburg this season.
The Cannons sent Sean Gabel to the mound to face off against Benjamin Dum. Both pitchers were on their A game as they both took shutouts to the fifth inning. Sheldon Reed led off the Cannon fifth with a double. After a Raul Cabrera fly out to center field, Trey McDyre grounded out to the third baseman, however Sheldon Reed advanced to third after McDyre was retired and the Strasburg first baseman tried to gun down Reed at third and overthrew the third baseman, which allowed Reed to score the first run of the game to give the Cannons the 1-0 lead. Andrew Zban then came to the plate and battled to a 3-2 count, and ended up working a walk … at least that is what everyone in the ballpark thought, however, the homeplate umpire assured everyone that it was a 2-2 count and what was thought of to be ball 4 was ball 3. The real 3-2 pitch home to Zban was taken deep and over the fence for a solo homerun and gave the Cannons a 2-0 lead.
Strasburg was able to answer, and they answered in a big way. Tyler Martin led off the home half of the fifth with a booming solo shot to left field and cut the lead to 2-1 Cannons. Sean Gabel did bounce back and retired the following three hitters to keep the lead at 2-1.
The Cannons weren’t done with one out, Payton Marshall got one with an infield single and that brought up Trevin Esquerra. Esquerra barely missed a homerun in his first at-bat flying out to the warning track. This time, was a no-doubter as he hit a 2-run homerun over the right field fence to increase the lead 4-1 and that’s where the top of the sixth would end. Sean Gabel worked a good sixth inning, striking out 2 hitters and getting a fielder’s choice groundout.
The Cannons kept their foot on the gas pedal as they struck for two more in the seventh. Trey McDyre singled with one out. After a deep fly out by Andrew Zban, Andy Szamski to the plate. Szamski battled but was down 0-2 and got his pitch, a fastball and parked it deep over the left field wall to put another two-spot on the board and make the score 6-1. Dum bounced back to get a fly out from Jake Goodreau to end the inning. Sean came out for the seventh and got great help from his defense. After a leadoff single, Gabel induced a fly out. After another single to put runners on first and second, it was perfect time for a double play. The inning would end on a 3-6 double play, a line drive hit right at Trevin Esquerra who quickly fired to Trey McDyre at second to end the inning.
Lawson Humphries entered the game in the eighth for the Express, Dum’s final line was 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, 6 runs (4 earned), 0 walks, and 5 strikeouts. Humphries pitched a great eighth inning, giving up a single to Payton Marshall and a stolen base to him as well, and a single to Nolan Ritchie, who pinch hit for Hernandez. No runs would score and the score would stay at 6-1 in favor of the Cannons. Parker Dyson came in relief for Sean Gabel who finished at 7 innings pitched, 6 hits given up, 1 earned run, 0 walks, and 2 strikeouts. Dyson pitched great relief, only giving up one hit and getting one strikeout.
It was time for the ninth, Cannons still held a commanding 6-1 lead. Jackson Ray would relieve Humphries in the ninth and he surrendered a leadoff single to Trey McDyre, who would also advance to third on a wild pitch. After back-to-back strikeouts, Jake Goodreau came to the plate looking to deliver a clutch two-out hit and he did, bringing home McDyre from third to increase the lead 7-1. In the bottom of the ninth, the Cannons went to the bullpen again and called on John Nolan. Nolan walked the leadoff hitter and then gave up back-to-back singles. The second single was to Jacob Hirsh, who brought in a run to make it 7-2. However, that is where the score would stay, Nolan got three straight outs, and a game ending double play to preserve the game and win.
It was a great game and a great win for the Cannons as they were able to steal one at Strasburg, after Strasburg stole two games at Fireman’s Field this season. The Cannons continue to roll, collecting their seventh road win and 14th win overall this season. The Cannons remain on top the North division, still three games ahead of second place New Market.
The Cannons are on the road again against Covington on Thursday and return home to Fireman’s Field on Friday.