The Free Press (Edinburg, VA)
Bandits, Rebels go down to the wire
By Jerry Carter - July 31, 2009
The Valley Baseball League adopted a new schedule and division format during the off-season with hopes of building on the natural rivalries as well as minimizing the travel costs for the 12 teams.
The example that was used in the voting process was the series between Shenandoah County neighbors New Market and Woodstock, and to say it has lived up to the hype would be an understatement.
The Rebels and the River Bandits played the seventh chapter of their eight game mini-series Monday night at Central High School and the result should have surprised no one who has followed the 2009 series. Woodstock pushed across a run in the bottom of the eighth inning to take a 2-1 lead and then watched closer Guido Knudson slam the door on the visitors.
Seven games played and now for the seventh straight time the home team has come out on top. New Market will now attempt to hold serve when the two teams return to Rebel Park to close out the series.
Woodstock outhit the Rebels by a 10-4 margin but still had to play from behind after starter Ian Marshall surrendered a run in the top of the third inning. Marshall was dominant during his seven innings of work as the University of Richmond righty surrendered just three base hits. New Market scratched out its lone run with the ultimate definition of small ball.
Kevin Rufus came to the plate with two outs and no one on in the third inning and struck out against Marshall. Rufus advanced to first base by beating the throw following a dropped third strike. Once on base the sophomore from USC-Sumter swiped both second and third base before being awarded home after a balk was called on Marshall. The run was scored without the baseball ever being put in play.
New Market starter Steven Thiele was equally impressive over his 6.2 innings of work. While Thiele surrendered nine hits and issued two walks, only one River Bandit managed to score. Woodstock tied the score at 1-1 when Mike Garza (Stanford) singled home Eric Kroll (West Florida) in the bottom of the fourth inning.
The game remained tied at 1-1 until what would prove to be the River Bandits’ final at bat. Once again the decisive run was scored in a unique manner. Stephen Hunt stroked a one-out single and later scored after two pitchers combined to walk three straight batters.
“Ian pitched a great ball game for us tonight,” River Bandits Manager Donn Foltz said. “He just a gamer; someone you want in there when you are playing a game that you have to win. I made a point to congratulate Thiele right after the game because he pitched a quality ball game for them as well.”
New Market has all but punched its post season ticket while Woodstock is trying to nail down one of the two wild card spots.
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