SHENANDOAH JUNCTION — The Charles Town Cannons are like a baseball laboratory. With numerous players still away at various collegiate national tournaments, the first-year Valley League baseball team will try to quickly evaluate what talent it has on hand.
[cleeng_content id="800240415" description="Read it now!" price="0.15" t="article"]With very little practice time before the season opener on May 31, the Cannons will be a team in transition for at least 10 games. Attempting to find the most effective pitchers and what their various roles might be seems to be the most volatile of all the experiments and tests.
Finding an everyday lineup and arriving at a useful batting order will come next.
On Saturday evening at Sager Field, some of the early-season experiments were laboratory busts when visiting Aldie scored four runs in the ninth inning off two Charles Town relievers to turn a one-run deficit into a 6-3 win.
The Cannons were missing about a dozen players who are still on their roster. They had already released five players in the ever-changing world of the Valley Baseball League.
Both teams had won their season openers on the previous night.
Mike Estevez, a slightly built right-hander from Alabama State, was Charles Town’s starting pitcher. He struggled with his control, but after walking the first two men he saw, found enough strikeouts to keep the Senators to one run through three innings. Estevez had fanned four and Aldie had stranded six runners through three.
Through six innings, Estevez was protecting a 3-1 lead because Ty Michelotti (Arkansas State) had scored on an infield error and Waldyvan Estrada (Alabama State) had driven in two runs with a ground single through a drawn-in infield.
Aldie got a run closer in Estevez’s last inning when he hit Brett Charboneau in the head and allowed Austin Wobrock’s RBI single. Logan Traylor (Auburn) blanked the Senators in the eighth. But couldn’t earn a save when the Senators ruined the Cannons’ trial and error pitching experiment with a four-run, game-winning outburst.
Traylor gave up Graham Tebbit’s inning-opening single, and after a successful sacrifice bunt, he walked Charboneau.
David Rumsey (Sam Houston State) replaced Traylor.
Rumsey wasn’t charged with the loss but the first three batters he saw reached safely (giving Aldie a 4-3 lead) and Eason Spivey drove in the two more runs with his single.
Charles Town had seen the small lead Estevez had zealously protected torn and tattered by the last-inning faltering of pitchers the coaching staff hadn’t seen throw this spring.
With players filtering in now that their college teams have been eliminated and others being released, the grand experimenting will continue for some time.
A starting rotation of pitchers has to be established. A closer and set-up men will likely be found. And a mostly-set batting order will be put in place.
The Cannons were 1-1 … and the experimenting continues.[/cleeng_content]