Generals' Momentum Continues In Win
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Jul 21, 2014, 23:25
Generals' players go through the post-game handshakes after picking up a big win.
PETERSBURG — The road to win No. 10 was a long and arduous task for the Petersburg Generals, spanning 10 games and 15 days. Yet, the road to win No. 11 wasn't quite as daunting even with having to face the imposing Edenton Steamers who had won seven of eight games against the Generals this season.
In fact, it took just one inning for one to see the Generals had carried over the momentum from Saturday's road win against Wilson into Monday night's affair with the already playoff bound Steamers. After an easy top half of the inning, Nick Christopher led off the bottom half of the 1st with a walk before promptly taking, second, third and home on wild-pitches to take a 1-0 lead.
Two batters later, Ryan Owens worked a two-out walk to keep the inning alive for Thomas Stallings. Stallings took the first offering from Edenton's Jake McCoy for a strike before lacing the second into the right-center field gap for a double. Connor Andrus followed Stallings' at-bat with a two-run single to help the Generals to a 3-0 lead.
But the offensive explosion wouldn't end there. Petersburg wasted little time in the 2nd inning as Geremy Walton and Jerrod Groves each lined base-hits into left and were advanced one base each on a Christopher sacrifice-bunt. It sent the stage for successive run-scoring singles from D.J. Martinez and Owens before Jeremy Wolf launched a fly-ball into center for a sacrifice-fly to double the lead.
And unlike the last few times the Generals had jumped out to a big lead early, they held onto it with a strong defensive and pitching performance, tacked on a run late and captured their second-straight win. It was the type of effort manager Daniel Wood had waited for all season long in a 7-2 win.
"We kind of rolled over some momentum from the win over Wilson, so obviously keeping that momentum was huge," Wood explained after the game. "We came out here with a good approach and got some runs early ... We played some phenomenal defense, tacked on late and the bullpen came in and did their job."
No one did their job better than Generals' (4-11, 11-32) starting pitcher Dylan Collett. While the team carried over momentum from the win, Collett also carried momentum over into his start against Edenton (9-8, 30-15) . In a relief appearance Friday night, Collett got himself out of runner on second and third, no-one out jam without allowing a run in an eventual loss.
Dylan Collett fired six strong innings of one-run ball to earn his first win.
However, that effort seemed to give Collett the confidence boost he needed to shut-down the No. 4 ranked offense in the Coastal Plain League. In fact, over the first five innings of work, Collett allowed just four Steamers to reach base and only one of those via a base-hit.
But in the 6th inning, Collett would find himself in his only jam of the night. A lead-off walk to Grant Tyndall led to Edenton's first run of the game on a base-hit from Michael Perez, putting runners on second and third and one-out. Yet, Collett did not panic because he had been in this situation before. He worked ahead in the count to Aaron Wright and struck him out on a high fastball for the second out before having to face Generals' killer Chance Shepard.
Shepard entered the game having hit three homers this season with all coming against Petersburg. But Collett would make sure he didn't add to those numbers, striking out the North Carolina State catcher on a 3-2 fastball over the inside corner to end the inning and his night.
"That kid has been a Generals' killer on this field," Wood said of Shepard. "Dylan did a great job of being able to mix his pitches in and out and finishing it off with that big punch out with runners in scoring position."
Added Collett on the key moment in his 6-inning, three-hit, one-run and six-strikeout performance, "The way I think about it when pitching is a sort of here it is, hit it mentality. In the beginning of the year, I was pitching a little scared, but now I'm throwing better because I'm confident on the hill."
And the confidence has also spread to the rest of the team and it was easy to see in their heads-up play. The Steamers could have potentially had themselves a big inning in the 2nd as they put the first two hitters on base via a hit and a hit batter.
But Andrus had other ideas from behind the plate. Over the course of the season, Andrus has displayed a strong arm and an ability to take care of the pitching staff by calling a good game. However, this time he used his arm and smarts to alertly catch Shepard napping at first base on a snap-throw, starting a 2-3-5 put-out which also ended a threat.
Thomas Stallings recorded two doubles on the night to help jump-start the Generals' offense.
Another key play came in the 6th inning as Walton ranged far into deep right-center field to haul in a catch off the bat of Evan Rogers. Had Walton not gotten to the ball, the tone of the whole inning could have been different, but his determination made sure it did not happen.
It was an example of how invested the Generals' players are in a season which has not gone as planned and it showed more when the final out was recorded and every player cheered before high-fiving each other.
"A win is always great no matter who you play, but when you play a top-team like Edenton who has done a good job against us all year and to be able to take one from them at home means a lot to us," Wood said. "The fact that we were able to play good baseball for all nine innings, stick with it and not ride a roller-coaster ... having it all come together when you've scuffled all year means something."
What it means is the team has not packed its bags quite yet. Instead they remain on a quest to pile up as many wins as they can while attempting to play spoiler down the stretch, relishing each victory that comes their way.