Read the review of our exciting 2017 VBL Championship series vs the Charlottesville Tom Sox, all articles courtesy of the Valley League Baseball Staff.
GAME 1: STRASBURG 9, CHARLOTTESVILLE 7
(article by VBL Staff)
Strasburg jumped out to a big lead and held on, taking a 1-0 finals advantage with a 9-7 win in Charlottesville.
Strasburg’s bats started hot, loading the bases in the top of the first. Tyler Martin knocked in both Turner Buis and Brandon Quaranta for a quick 2-0 lead.
Martin (3-for-4, four RBIs) had another two-run double in the third inning to kick-start an Express rally. LT Struble knocked in Jacob Hirsh, Martin came in on Sebastiano Santorelli’s groundout, and Philip Madonna singled in Struble for a 7-0 lead.
Charlottesville’s Michael Wielansky was 5-for-5 with a walk in his six plate appearances for the hosts. He got to third base in the bottom of the first but Brendan Smith ended the threat with a strikeout. Charlottesville loaded the bases in the next frame, before Smith struck out Bryce Windham to get out of the jam.
When Quaranta launched a solo homer to center field in front of a shocked home crowd, the lead was up to 8-1 in just the fourth inning. The Tom Sox would rally however, beginning with a Wielansky RBI single in the bottom half of that inning.
The Tom Sox would then score five unearned runs in the next frame following a throwing error by the pitcher. Michael Derenzi doubled in Cole Migliorini, and Vinnie Pasquantino’s double brought Windham and Jake Allen around.
Jackson Ray came in to pitch and saved the day for Strasburg, getting out of that jam and ultimately going 4.1 scoreless innings.
The Express would add an insurance run in the eighth, and turned a double play to end the game with two Tom Sox on base in the bottom of the ninth.
Strasburg now heads home tomorrow with a chance to win its third straight VBL title, after handing the Tom Sox their first postseason loss (and just 11th of the season).
GAME 2: CHARLOTTESVILLE 11, STRASBURG 5
(article by VBL Staff)
The Charlottesville Tom Sox forced a deciding championship game, taking their road matchup 11-5 at Strasburg.
Charlottesville started Justin Sorokowski (4-1 including postseason) and still had four All-VBL hurlers with remaining playoff pitch counts, while Strasburg countered with first team All-Leaguer Zach Peek.
It was the visiting Tom Sox who jumped all over Peek however with five runs in the second.
Haiden Lamb singled in Ari Sechopoulos, and Jack Barry doubled in two more runs. After an Express error on what should have been a forceout to third, Barry came home and Bryce Windham scored on a Vinnie Pasquantino sac fly.
Strasburg ended the fourth still hitless, but did get one back. C’ville rightfielder Kyle Battle threw a strike to home to prevent an apparent sacrifice fly, but the Express then loaded the bases and had one run walk in to make it 5-1.
Sorokowski finally gave up a hit in the fifth inning as Philip Madonna singled. Two more hits followed to load the bases with nobody out. Quaranta came about 15 feet shy of a game-tying grand slam, but did get the sacrifice fly to make it 5-2.
League MVP Michael Wielansky launched a two-run homer in the sixth inning for a 7-2 Tom Sox lead. Two Tylers, Martin and Halas, went back-to-back in the bottom half for Strasburg to make it a three-run game again.
Charlottesville added two insurance runs in the eighth, on a two-RBI double by Pasquantino.
Wielansky finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored, and is now 8-for-10 in the championship series. Pasquantino was 2-for-5 with three runs batted in.
The 2017 Valley League championship will be decided tomorrow night in Charlottesville, resulting in either a three-peat for Strasburg or a first title for the Tom Sox. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.
GAME 3: CHARLOTTESVILLE 2, STRASBURG 1
(article by VBL Staff)
The 2017 VBL campaign came to a fitting end, as the Charlottesville Tom Sox won one of the most exciting games of the season 2-1 over visiting Strasburg.
In front of a huge crowd of 2,154 fans for the do-or-die championship game, the two teams combined to strand 27 runners in a tense matchup.
The winning run came in the bottom of the eighth, as Michael DeRenzi’s grounder took a high hop that carried it just barely out of the reach of both middle infielders, scoring Michael Wielansky from second base.
Strasburg put two runners on with just one out in the ninth, but couldn’t capitalize as winning pitcher Rick Spiers (2.2 shutout innings) gloved a comebacker for the championship out.
Each team had the bases loaded back-to-back with one out and the league's top two MVP vote getters up to bat, and neither could score.
Strasburg starter Dylan Hall was relieved in the sixth and Charlottesville loaded the bases with Wielansky batting and just one out. The Express made the forceout at home however, and a hard liner by Vinnie Pasquantino was caught on the run by centerfielder Jacob Hirsh.
The Express then loaded the bases with one out for Brandon Quaranta, who also grounded into a forceout. The next batter lined one off Spiers' glove, but shortstop Bryce Windham hustled to make the play at first and keep it a 1-1 game.
Strasburg drew first blood in the third inning when Jake Perry singled in Turner Buis. Quaranta moved to third, but Windham fielded a tough grounder to make the final out and prevent the run from scoring.
The Express should have gotten out of the fourth inning, but a two-out error allowed Kyle Battle to score and even the contest at 1-1.
Hall went 5.1 innings for Strasburg with five strikeouts and just one run allowed. He did walk the bases loaded in the fifth, but rebounded to strike out Battle in three pitches to get out of the jam.
Charlottesville finishes the season with a sterling 38-11 overall record, but the Tom Sox were pushed all the way by two-time defending champions Strasburg, who finished 27-23 including postseason play.