SHENANDOAH JUNCTION — Rising. Steadily rising.
[cleeng_content id="355360581" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]That’s been the road taken toward the top of the standings by the pitcher-rich Charles Town Cannons.
Getting still another well-pitched game by a starter (Chris Payne) and two relievers (Steven Burnham and winner Connor McClain), the Cannons finally dispatched Rockbridge, 1-0, in 10 innings.
With its eighth win in the last nine games, Charles Town edged ever closer to North Division leader Woodstock, moving within three games of the top spot because the River Bandits lost last Tuesday.
Charles Town improved to 16-11 overall, having moved quickly from the 8-10 record it once held.
The rise has come on the strength of its arms.
Payne, who authored six innings of three-hit, shutout baseball against the Rapids, lowered his league-leading ERA to 0.65 but had to settle for another no-decision. Burnham allowed only two hits in his three shutout innings, and then McClain pitched a scoreless 10th where he fanned two.
In Payne’s previous start, he pitched five shutout innings and left with a 3-0 lead but got a no-decision when the game was tied.
Payne continued with a 2-0 record. He is one part of the combination of Charles Town starters that have mostly owned the wood-bat Valley Baseball League.
Adam Parks, who had a seven-inning perfect game in his last outing, had a 3-1 record and a 1.38 ERA. Alex Hackerott was also 3-1 with a 1.74 ERA and Jake Johnson was 3-2 with a 2.11 ERA. Reliable reliever David Rumsey had a 2-0 record and a 2.93 ERA.
The Valley Baseball League’s combined batting average against the Cannons’ staff was a tiny, but not insignificant, .203.
Even in being shut out for nine innings, the Cannons could still prevail in extra innings because of the bat-muzzling pitching of Payne, Burnham and McClain.
Rockbridge’s nine-inning, shutout pitcher was Austin Stephens, who in today’s litigation-happy society could have sued for non-support.
Stephens allowed only six hits while fanning six and continually frustrated the Cannons by wriggling away from any trouble he encountered. Charles Town left 10 runners stranded.
Payne and Burnham weren’t perfect. They just kept Rockbridge from scoring. The Rapids stranded 11 runners in missing their opportunities, and losing, to go 11-17 overall.
The game’s only run came when Luke Stewart walked to open the 10th and moved on to second when Tyler Hibbert singled. After an out, Rockbridge reliever Nygeal Andrews uncorked a wild pitch to move the runners up a base.
Matt Durst was walked intentionally to load the bases.
One of the league’s top RBI men, Waldyvan Estrada, lofted a sacrifice fly to center to plate Stewart with the game’s only run.
The steady rise in the standings continued. And it was created and maintained by the effective arms of the Cannons’ starting pitchers.
On July 8, the Cannons added pitchers Connor Gorman and Clayton Payne to the roster.[/cleeng_content]