#8 Covington 11, #1 Front Royal 5: Covington wins series, 2-1
Covington finished off the shocking upsets of the top two Valley League seeds with an 11-5 victory in Front Royal last night. Losing 5-3 in the 8th, the Jacks exploded against Cardinal relievers Ryan George (who received the loss) and Matt Bowling, scoring 4 runs in both the 8th and 9th. The big blow in the 8th was a bases-clearing double hit by Lammar Guy, and JJ Muse hit a 2-run double in the 9th. Guy finished the game 3-5, with 2 runs and 5 RBI, while Muse went 2-5, with 1 run and 3 RBI. Alex Jones received the win after an inning of shutout relief, and Ryan Shook should have received a save, but inexplicably didn't, as he came in the game with the Jacks winning 7-5, and pitched two shutout innings.
The Jacks will await the outcome of the New Market-Luray game this evening. As the #8 seed, they will next play the highest remaining seed, which will be #3 Luray (if they win), or #5 Winchester.
As a side note, the Lumberjacks are now 11-3 in hte first round of the playoffs since 2003, and are an overall 29-18 in the playoffs in the franchise's history.
#3 Luray 5, #6 New Market 4: Series tied, 1-1
Led by Drew Martinez and Pablo Bermudez, the Luray Wranglers hung on to defeat the very short-handed Rebels of New Market to send their series to a 3rd game.
Both Martinez and Bermudez scored two runs to help the Wranglers stave off elimination. Drew Rucinski received the win after his 6 inning, 4 run performance, while Tyler Sanders received the save after 1 1/3 shutout innings.
Bermudez, however, saved the Wranglers' season with his glove, as well. In the bottom of the 8th, with the score already 5-4, the Rebels' Seth Kivett, who already had a 3-run home run, ripped a line drive to deep left with two outs and two men on base. Bermudez tracked the ball down close to the warning track, saving the game and the season for the Wranglers.
Steven Thiele received the tough-luck loss for the Rebels, who are on their 5th catcher, and have only 8 position players left on the roster.
The teams will face off in the deciding game three tonight in Luray, giving the fans one more chance to hurl more invective at the opposing team's coach, and at each other.
#5 Winchester 2, #4 Woodstock 1: Winchester wins series, 2-0
Jordan Steranka's 2-run double in the bottom of the 6th inning proved to be enough offense for Brandon Sinnery and the Winchester bullpen, sending the team on to the semi-finals.
Sinnery threw 6 1/3 shutout innings to earn the win, while Bryam Garcia got the last two outs in the ninth for the save. One of those outs was recorded at home plate when Stephen Hunt tried to score from second base on a wild pitch.
Heith Hatfield was the tough luck loser for the Bandits, as he threw all 8 innings, and allowed 7 hits, 0 walks, 2 runs (earned), and struck out 5.