Roanoke Rails right hander Zack Kelly has been a hard luck pitcher during his recent summers. An injury curtailed his first season with the Rails and a lack of run production has marred the two seasons which followed. Today, it was business as usual for the UNC-Newberry transfer.
Kernersville Bulldogs pitcher Duncan Everett (Pfeiffer U) looked to pen a strong outing this afternoon as the two right handers squared off on the Kiwanis Field mound. In the top of the second inning, the visitors struck first. Bulldog’s second baseman Marcus Shoemaker’s (Lenoir-Rhyne) leadoff single was followed by two consecutive bases on balls. Ben Temple (Surry CC) lifted a run scoring sacrifice fly to score Shoemaker and grab a quick one run lead.
Everett and Kelly dueled through the middle innings allowing no runs, until the top of the sixth. Shoemaker singled to open the frame, Zach Mickalski (GTCC) doubled and Christian Tripplet (NC Central) worked a walk to load the bases and prompt a Rails pitching change. Drew Phemister’s (King U) 0-2 pitch flew towards the right field corner and rebounded off the foul pole.Fortunately (for the Rails), the home plate umpire called the jolt a foul ball. Kernersville fans, players, and coaches were rightly upset with the call, but batter Matt Orth (GTCC) was undaunted, lining a two run double into the left-centerfield alley.
Down 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh, the Rails were down to their three outs. Jon Munn (Lynchburg College) led off the seventh with a base hit and Devin Cassity (Roanoke College) lined a one out single into centerfield to increase the Rails hope. Lincoln Evans (Lynchburg College) blast to left centerfield nearly caused an outfield collision as the ball popped out of Brandon Ford’s (CVCC) glove, and Munn wheeled across the plate. Christian Sanderson (Randolph-Macon) blistered a single to left scoring the fleet footed Cassity and Evans to tie the game 3-3.
The game moved to extra innings and in the tenth Shoemaker capped is four hit game, singling in Austin Stilley (Catawba) to give the Bulldogs the lead. The Rails failed to score in the bottom of the inning, losing a toughly fought battle 4-3.
Game two showcased another pitcher’s duel between the Rails Easton Riggs (Ferrum) and Seth Brim (Surry CC). Both hurlers were in complete control through the first four innings, Riggs striking out the side in the second and Brim allowed just three scattered singles.
In the top half of the fifth inning, Rails went off the track. Orth misplayed double to lead off the inning, Chase Mitchell (UNC-Pembroke) walked and Tripllet’s two RBI single to left broke up the shutout. Run producing singles from Kory Shumate (Elon University) and Stilley would provide a four run lead for Kernersville and end the scoring both team.
The Bulldogs doubleheader sweep was a tough pill to swallow, yet ,as the playoffs loom, the Rails have to encouraged with the strong pitching that marked both games.Kernersville second baseman Marcus Shoemaker had six hits in eight at bats in the two games. Perhaps someone should anonymous airline ticket to a sunny destination for the week of this year’s tournament. Bon Voyage Marcus!