By Matt Davis, Purcellville Cannons
NEW MARKET – The regular season is officially underway in the Valley League and the Cannons are starting off on the right foot as they get their first win of the season and first road win. This win comes two days after an 10-0 exhibition game vs. the Loudoun Riverdogs where the pitching staff threw a combined shutout and the tremendous pitching for the Cannons would continue against the New Market Rebels.
The Cannons were brought back down to Earth in the top of the first, as on Wednesday they made it through the entire batting order before the end of the first and scored four runs. However, it was a different tune on Friday as they were sent down in order 1, 2, 3. On the mound to start the game against the New Market Rebels was sophomore left-handed pitcher from Shelton State, Alex London. Just as the exhibition on Wednesday, the Cannons worked a perfect inning.
In the second, the Cannons managed to get leadoff man Kyle Ouellete on, but left fielder Payton Marshall would hit into a fielder’s choice and third baseman Trey McDyre hit into an inning ending double play. In the Rebel’s half of the second inning, they managed to get the leadoff man aboard, but Alex London would immediately follow that with a strikeout and two fielder’s choice groundouts. Life came to the Cannons after two quick outs to start the third. After left fielder Mitchell Painter drew a walk, he immediately stole second. Shortstop Nolan Ritchie would draw a walk and with two runners on, Rebel’s pitcher Nathan Pawelczyk was able to get Raul Cabrera to pop out to the shortstop and prevent any damage from happening. London continued his great outing with a perfect third inning which would consist of one strikeout.
After the Cannons went down in order in the fourth, a little heart palpitation occurred in every Cannon on that field as Alec Aleywine, the leadoff hitter in the Rebel’s half of the fourth inning, took Alex London’s 2-2 pitch deep to right field, but Andrew Zban tracked it perfectly to the wall and robbed Aleywine of a solo homerun. London then gave up a single to designated hitter Luke Johnson, but would strike out Jack Hartman immediately after. After walking third baseman Chase Sudduth, with runners on first and second, London induced a fly ball out to Alex Zban in right field to end the fourth inning.
The fifth inning went by like a flash for both the Cannons and Rebels as both teams went down quickly 1, 2, 3. Right-hander Drew Sutera entered the game in the sixth for the Cannons and again made quick work of the Rebels, striking out the side. After the Cannons went down in order, the seventh got dicey again for the Cannons. Sutera induced a fly ball to shallow right field, but it got by a diving Andrew Zban and rolled to the wall, giving Jack Hartman a leadoff triple for the Rebels. That would force Cannons manager Brett Fuller to pull the infield in, to cut down the runner if he would attempt to come home on a ball hit anywhere in the infield. Chase Sudduth stepped in to bring home what would be the first run of the game, and on the first pitch he ripped a hard ground ball to third baseman Trey McDyre, who dove full extension towards the third base bag, making an incredible stop and throwing out the runner at first, while keeping the runner at third. Sutera buckled down to strikeout the next hitter and then induced a lazy fly ball to right field to get out of trouble.
This game was tight all the way. By the ninth inning the Rebels had no runs and three hits, while the Cannons had no runs and were STILL trying to find a hit any way possible…. And they got it in the top of the ninth on a Nolan Ritchie surprise drag bunt up the first base line. It was beautifully executed; the defense wasn’t expecting it and it had never the look of going foul. That sparked life into the Cannons. However, on a hit-and-run call, Raul Cabrera smacked a solid line drive to the shortstop, and Nolan Ritchie would be tagged out before he could attempt to get back to first. With two outs, after a rally killing double-play, designated hitter Sheldon Reed stepped up and on the first pitch took a monster hack and sent the ball over the right center wall 370 feet to give the Cannons a 1-0 lead. Two pitchers were used to close out the ninth, lefty specialist Hunter Peck came in and delivered a huge K to the Rebel’s big left-handed first baseman. Cannons closer, Dalton Whitaker came in to close out the game, notching a strikeout and getting the save.
The Cannons look to make it two-in-a-row on Saturday, June 3 as they take on the Winchester Royals in their 2017 home opener.
First pitch is scheduled for 7 pm (ET) with gates opening at 5:30.