SHENANDOAH JUNCTION — The elements are often as important in a baseball game as the hits, runs, errors, and lack of clutch hitting.
[cleeng_content id="835327057" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]Winging along with a bare bones 1-0 lead after five innings of its Valley Baseball League quarterfinal playoff game Sunday against Strasburg, Charles Town and shutout pitcher Adam Parks had to wait out a long rain delay.
Parks returned and pitched another two shutout innings.
But he was lifted after seven innings with the score still reading 1-0 in Charles Town’s favor.
When Cannons’ reliever Connor McClain issued a pair of two-out walks in the eighth, Strasburg’s Erik Armstrong was about to completely change the path of the playoff game.
Armstrong drove a 1-1 pitch from McClain beyond the wall in left-center for a three-run homer to quickly reverse the game-long trend established by Parks’ pitching dominance.
Strasburg had its first runs in what would eventually be a 5-1 win in the first game of the short-lived best-of-three quarterfinal series.
Parks had the enviable pitching line showing him with seven shutout innings, allowing four harmless hits, walking only two and fanning nine.
The Express was kept in the game by the pitching efforts of five different players. Strasburg’s Pat McGavin (five innings), Austin Clark, Adam Emerson. Evan Kirsch and Dan Bridgeman combined to limit Charles Town to seven hits while doling out only three walks and fanning 11.
The Cannons did have some baserunners. But there was only one clutch hit and that came in the second when Emmanuel Marrero had a bases loaded single that plated L.K. Thompson with what would be the Cannons’ only run. Pat Ammar hit into a double play to end that threat.
Charles Town would strand 10 runners in all.
The Cannons used a first-seen batting order that included Matthew Gandy catching and playing his first game of the season with Charles Town. The new face struck out three times. Gandy hit .287 for Covington this season.
Gone from the Charles Town roster were most of its high-average, runs-producing and runs-scoring players. Tyler Hibbert, Matt Durst, Hayden Cronenbold and Ty Michelotti had all left for various reasons with Michelotti going down after getting hit in the face.
The elements had struck, while the jury-rigged Charles Town offense hadn’t done enough to keep the Cannons from traveling to Strasburg on Monday with a win-or-else game in front of them.[/cleeng_content]