The Purcellville Cannons rallied three runs in the top of the ninth inning, but eventually fell one run short, losing to the defending VBL-champion Strasburg Express, 7-6, on Thursday night at First Bank Park.
Purcellville did not go down quietly in their attempt to end a three-game losing streak. Trailing 7-3 heading into the game’s finl frame, pinch-hitter Joe Champi knocked a two-run double to right field and catcher Onassis Matos added an RBI single to center to cut the deficit to one.
With two outs in the ninth and runners on the corners, Strasburg brought in closer Abraham Almonte, who proceeded to strike out Cannons’ second baseman Tommy Ziegen on three pitchers to shut the door and give the Express their fifth win of 2016.
Purcellville starter Pat Doudican was looking to rebound from his first outing of the summer when he allowed six runs (two earned) over 2 2/3 innings in a 12-4 loss to the Front Royal Cardinals in the season-opener. The 18-year-old lefty did perform better on the hill, but allowed a 2-run double to Strasburg’s designated hitter Dylan Ingram with two outs in the bottom of the fifth to give the Express a 6-2 lead.
Doudican was handed his second loss of the young season, charged for six runs (four earned) over 4 2/3 innings.
A product of the College of Charleston, Doudican ran into trouble against a fellow Charleston Cougar on the opposing lineup, third baseman Bradley Dixon. In his first appearance for the Express this season, Dixon recorded three RBI on run-scoring singles in teh second and fourth inning, respectively. His single in the fourth off Doudican broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Express a lead they would maintain for the remainder of the contest.
Express starter Michael Silva earned his first win of the season in front of the home town fans on Thursday, yielding two runs over five innings of work.
After missing Wednesday’s 6-1 loss to Harrisonburg due to turf toe, Cannons’ center fielder DeAires Moses returned to action against the Express, reaching base four times on three infield singles and a walk while scoring a pair of runs. Thus far on the season, Moses leads Purcellville with a .450 batting average, nine hits and six runs scored.
Cannons’ manager Brett Fuller did get a good performance from his bullpen in the loss. Following Doudican’s fifth-inning exit, relievers Andrew Green, Daniel Gooden and Billy Cox combined for 3 2/3 innings of three-hit, one-run ball.
The lone run, however, was charged to Gooden in the eighth inning and was unearned as the Express rallied with two outs to score the late insurance run on three walks and a throwing error by Gooden that proved to be the difference in a 7-6 final.
With the Cannons’ losing streak now hitting four, they will turn their attention to a second trip to Bing Crosby Stadium to take on the Cardinals.
Front Royal has lost three in a row after starting the season 4-1.