Winchester Royals: Journal by Josh

Thursday, July 24
2014 Winchester Royals Awards:

By Josh Dorsey

2014 Winchester Royals Awards:

The Winchester Royals handed out their annual player awards prior to Thursday night’s game against the Front Royal Cardinals:

-Lew Zirkle Outstanding Pitcher Award – Charles Cantrell – Cantrell out of North Carolina A&T was the Royals ace all season. His 3 wins was tied for best on the Royals staff and his outstanding 0.88 ERA was among the best in the entire league. Cantrell only allowed three earned runs on 30.2 innings pitched this season.

- Jim Gallagher Press Box Award – Wes Hoover – Wes Hoover out of Central Arkansas was a versatile threat for the Royals all season and eventually took over the leadoff spot in the lineup. Hoover held a .310 batting average and contributed 12 stolen bases while playing outstanding defense in centerfield.

- Hugh Erwin Good Sportsmanship Award – Luke Mould – Luke Mould out of University of Alabama-Huntsville gave solid contributions to the Royals pitching staff this season recording 26.1 innings pitched and just a 2.73 ERA all while displaying the class and sportsmanship that all Valley Baseball League players and coaches strive for.

-A. Ryland Conner MVP Award – Jerry Downs -Royals Fan Favorite 2014- Jerry Downs – There was no surprise when it came to the team MVP and Royals Fan Favorite Award. Jerry Downs out of St. Thomas University was an offensive machine for the Royals in 2014. While playing outstanding defense and being a team leader in the dugout Downs led the Royals in average (.340), hits (48), runs (26), RBI’s (24), doubles (7), homeruns (5), walks (33), and stolen bases (14).

Thursday, July 24
Royals Blow Another Late Lead; Fall 8-7

By Josh Dorsey

Royals Blow Another Late Lead; Fall 8-7

Winchester –The Winchester Royals (14-25) put their playoff hopes on the shoulders of hometown favorite Darrell Thompson (2-1) out of Shenandoah University Thursday night at Bridgeforth Field hosting the second place Front Royal Cardinals (24-15). After two consecutive extra inning losses, the Royals opened the night one and a half games back of both New Market (15-23) and Aldie (16-24) for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Winchester was able to pick up a half game on New Market even before the first pitch. New Market was in a midst of playing a double header against Harrisonburg and fell in the first game 7-2. Aldie will be at Charles Town.

Front Royal jumped on Thompson early with a leadoff walk and an infield hit followed by a double steal that eventually set them up to score the game’s first run on a fielder’s choice to shortstop Alex Mata. Thompson was able to work through the rest of the first and kept the score at 1-0.

Lucas Luopa was able to get on base with a single and advance to third base when Front Royal committed a throwing error trying to throw him out stealing at second. The next pitch Corey Chafin was able to knock a single into left field for his 12th RBI of the season tying the game at 1-1.

Winchester was able to get the offense going with the top of the order in the third. Alex Mata started it off with a single followed by yet another Jerry Downs walk. Zac Carter was then able to drive in Mata with a single to left, his 15th RBI of the season. Downs and Carter were both able to cross the plate after a throwing error by Front Royal on a hard hit ground ball by Michael Landestoy. The Royals four unanswered runs gave them a 4-1 lead after three innings.

Just when it appeared Thompson had gotten into a grove and retired seven straight Cardinals Mike Elwood, who is listed as a pitcher on the Front Royal roster, was able to crush his first homerun of the season over the left field fence. The homerun cut the Royals lead to 4-2 and Thompson was able to recover quickly by striking out the next batter on three pitches and get out of the inning.

Front Royal’s third error of the night cost them again when Michael Sillyman was able to reach second on a routine ground ball that went through the first basemen’s legs. Wes Hoover drove Sillyman in on a sacrifice fly later in the inning getting the run back that Winchester gave up on the solo homerun in the top of the inning.

Thompson was forced out of the game with two outs in the fifth inning after giving up a third run and leaving runners on first and third base. Because he did not complete five innings Thompson was not eligible to pick up the win. Mike Carpenter (3-1) took over for Thompson on the mound. Carpenter’s first pitch got away from catcher Corey Chafin allowing another Cardinals run to score making it 5-4.

The Royals were able to start a two out rally once again with the top of their order in the sixth. Back to back base hits by Hoover and Mata brought Downs to the plate. Downs was able to hit a chopper back up the middle and an ill-advised throw attempt by Front Royal allowed Hoover to score from second base despite the ball never leaving the infield. It extended the Royals lead back to two runs at 6-4.

Down 6-4 Front Royal threatened in the top of the eighth by loading the bases. Royals coach Stu Richardson then turned to his ace Charles Cantrell, who had just won the outstanding pitcher of the year award prior to the game. Cantrell threw a wild pitch that brought a Front Royal run in and cut the lead to 6-5 giving Royals fans an eerily familiar feeling of déjà vu. Cantrell was able to strike out the next batter and get Winchester out of the inning with a 6-5 lead.

Winchester was able to add an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth scoring on a wild pitch, sending the game for the second straight night to the ninth inning with the Royals clinging to a two run lead.

Cantrell did not appear to be his usual self in the top of the ninth looking for the save. Cantrell walked the bases loaded with no outs in the ninth and was pulled in favor of Brian Fortier. The déjà vu that Royals fans feared struck when Front Royal tied the game on a double down the left field line. The Cardinals were able to take the lead on a Royals error. The Royals would once again head to the bottom of the ninth having blown a lead.

Once again the Royals were unable to produce any offense in the bottom of the ninth and fell to the Cardinals 8-7 in a third straight devastating loss.

New Market lost their second game of the day against Harrisonburg bringing the Royals one game back of the Rebels in the standings but Aldie was able to defeat Charles Town which extended their lead over Winchester to two and a half games. The Royals do however have two of their final four games against the Senators.

Winchester will have a their most important game of the season Friday night when they travel to Aldie to face the Senators which are one of the team’s they are fighting with for the final playoff spot. If the Royals are able to put together a winning streak this weekend the next home game would be enormous when they will host Aldie on Sunday night with possibly a playoff spot on the line depending on how the standings shake out throughout the final weekend of the season.

Wednesday, July 23
Royals Blow Six Run Lead; Fall to Strasburg 10-8

By Josh Dorsey

Royals Blow Six Run Lead; Fall to Strasburg 10-8

Winchester – The Winchester Royals had no time to be somber about Tuesday night’s heartbreaking extra innings defeat at the hands of the New Market Rebels. The end of the Valley Baseball League (VBL) season is approaching quickly and Winchester remains within striking distance of the eighth and final playoff spot. The Royals (14-24) currently sit one and a half games behind the Aldie Senators (16-23) and one game behind the New Market Rebels (15-23) for the coveted eighth playoff spot.

 New Market was scheduled to travel to fourth place Charles Town (22-16) and Aldie was back on their home field against the first place Harrisonburg Turks (24-13) on Wednesday night. (New Market at Charles Town was postponed due to rain.)

While scoreboard watching at this point in the season will play a role, the main fact is that the Royals desperately needed a win Wednesday night hosting the Strasburg Express (19-20), and they would turn to the right arm of pitcher Tyler Gibson (0-0) for the start in this all important late season matchup.

After Gibson worked through a perfect first inning, the Royals put themselves in a good position to score after centerfielder Wes Hoover drew a leadoff walk and then stole second. Hoover would make his way to third with only one out but the Royals threat would fizzle out with two consecutive shallow pop flies that did not allow Hoover the chance to score.

The second inning was not as kind to Gibson, who has struggled with control issues throughout the season. Gibson walked four straight Strasburg batters giving the Express a 1-0 lead without ever swinging the bat. Winchester caught a break when right fielder Michael Hyman made a sliding catch and was able to turn a double play at second base on a runner who wandered too far off the bag. Luckily Gibson and the Royals were able to escape the inning only giving up one run. Despite the run Strasburg had yet to record a hit off of Gibson in the first two innings.

Winchester was able to get their leadoff batter on base again in the second inning when Michael Landestoy doubled to right field. This time the Royals were able to take advantage after Landestoy moved to third on a ground out by Lucas Luopa catcher Payton Thomas was able to pick up his second RBI of the season on an infield hit that drove in Landestoy and tied the game at one.

Gibson found himself in trouble again in the fourth after issuing a leadoff walk and then two wild pitches allowed the Strasburg runner to advance to third. The Express were able to drive the run in on a foul ball sac fly and Strasburg was able to take a 2-1 despite the fact they had yet to record a hit against Gibson.

Michael Landestoy was able to once again lead off the inning with a double for Winchester, this time down the left field line. It was then Lucas Luopa who had the honor of driving in Landestoy with his 14th RBI of the season and once again Landestoy’s run tied the game at 2. A beautiful safety squeeze by third baseman Brandon Canizares was able to score Luopa and give the Royals their first lead of the night. Winchester was not finished in the fourth, a two-out triple by Michael Hyman and a pitch that hit Wes Hoover set the table for a clutch two RBI single by Alex Mata. Jerry Downs was able to keep the rally alive with a single and Zac Carter was able to bring Mata home on an RBI single of his own. Downs then stole third and scored several pitches later on a wild pitch. Landestoy, who started the inning with a double, picked up an RBI single on his second at-bat of the inning. The Royals were able to push out to an 8-2 lead after picking up seven runs on seven hits in what was obviously their best offensive inning of the season. It was an inning Royals fans have been waiting for all season and it couldn’t have come at a better time in the midst of the tight playoff race.

Amazingly, Tyler Gibson entered the sixth with a no-hitter still intact and an 8-2 lead. Gibson was pulled from the game without allowing a hit in the sixth inning, his control struggles however led to seven walks, three hit batters, three wild pitches, and two runs for Strasburg. William Pozo (0-0) of Northwood University took over for Gibson and inherited two of Gibson’s base runners with no outs in the inning. Strasburg was finally able to pick up their first hit of the game with one out in the sixth, the RBI single cut the Royals lead to 8-3. Pozo walked the next two Strasburg batters which in turn walked in two more runs for the Express. Nate Traugh (1-3) out of North Carolina-Charlotte took over for Pozo. Traugh was able to work through the rest of the inning only giving up one run on a sacrifice fly but the Royals lead was cut to 8-6.

Brandon Valentin (1-5) replaced Traugh in the seventh and was able to get the Royals out of a jam and hold onto the two run lead.

Strasburg’s Sky Overton led off the eighth inning with a solo homerun that cut Winchester’s lead to 8-7 and left Royals fans squirming in the stands. Jerry Downs helped Winchester grab back some momentum with a sliding catch on a line drive that led to an unassisted double play at first base. Another clutch play by shortstop Alex Mata got the Royals out of the inning and within three outs of the victory clinging to a one run lead.

Jackson Berumen out of San Jose State University came on in the ninth for Winchester in an attempt to pick up his first save of the season. Berumen was able to record two outs with no problems, but was unable to record the final out before allowing the tying run to cross the plate on a double down the left field line. The game would go to the bottom of the ninth tied at eight.

Winchester was able to pick up two hits in the ninth but were unable to score and sent the game to extra innings for the second night in a row for the Royals.

After a questionable safe call at first base by the umpire that would have ended the inning Strasburg was able to construct a two-out rally in the top of the tenth giving the Express a two run lead. The Royals would have one final chance in the bottom of the tenth to try and recover for a much needed win.

Winchester was unable to get anything going with their final three outs and suffered a 10th inning heartbreaking loss for the second night in a row.

Winchester’s playoff push will continue at home tomorrow night against the Front Royal Cardinals. First pitch is scheduled for 7p.m. but be sure to try and get to the ballpark early as the Winchester Royals season awards will be handed out in a ceremony shortly before the game.

Monday, July 21
Harrisonburg Powers Past Winchester 6-4

By Josh Dorsey

Harrisonburg Powers Past Winchester 6-4

Winchester – The Winchester Royals (14-22) started Monday night only one game out of the eighth and final playoff spot behind the Aldie Senators (16-22) but their work was cut out for them as they were hosting the first place Harrisonburg Turks (23-12). Aldie was spending Monday night on the road against sixth place Strasburg (17-20).

It was a rough start for Royals starting pitcher Brian Fortier (1-4) against the explosive Harrisonburg offense. The Turks came out swinging like it was a homerun derby in the first, a highly unlikely scene at Bridgeforth field which typically holds hitters in the park. Thomas Spitz was able to hit a solo homerun (3) over the left field fence off a 3-2 pitch and then Matt Rose was able to smash a two-run shot (6) to give the Turks an early 3-0 lead in the first.

Not to be outdone, Winchester flashed some power of their own in the bottom half of the inning. After a leadoff walk to Wes Hoover shortstop Alex Mata hit his third homerun of the season to cut the Turks lead to 3-2.

Royals coach Stu Richardson was not taking any chances in the tight playoff race and replaced the struggling Fortier on the mound to begin the second inning with Connor Staskey (0-1) out of Temple University.

Staskey was able to supply the Royals with some consistency on the mound and keep the Turks bats silent and off the scoreboard for two innings.

Harrisonburg got to Staskey in the top of the fourth with their third homerun of the game, a two-run bomb by Daniel Nichols (1) that increased the lead to 5-2 for the Turks.

Winchester once again came up in the bottom of the inning with a response for the Turks. Jerry Downs led off the bottom of the fourth by taking a ball deep to center for his fifth homerun of the season. Michael Landestoy later added a triple off the wall and Cody Bower was able to pick up his seventh RBI of the season by driving Landestoy home, once again reeling Harrisonburg back into just a one run lead.

Darrell Thompson (2-1) came in to relieve Staskey in the seventh. Thompson, out of local Shenandoah University, is fresh off an outstanding performance that got the Royals a win on Friday night.

Thompson continued his hot pitching and shut down the Turks in the seventh inning, keeping the Royals within one run with nine outs to work with in the game.

The Royals threatened with two outs in the bottom of the seventh by putting runners on second and third but Harrisonburg came away with a big strikeout of Alex Mata to get out of the inning.

Playing the matchup game, Brandon Valentin (0-5) came on to face the first batter in the eighth inning for the Royals. He was able to record the out thanks to a spectacular diving play by Jerry Downs at first base. Valentin was then replaced by William Pozo (0-0).

The first error of the night for the Royals proved to be a costly one when Wes Hoover’s throw from center field ended up at the backstop and allowed Harrisonburg to score. Mike Carpenter then replaced Pozo on the mound and inherited a 6-4 deficit and a runner on second base.

Strasburg was able to defeat Aldie 4-2 which was announced over the loud speaker at Bridgeforth Field in the eighth inning and put the Royals in a golden position to move into a tie for the final playoff spot if they could pull off a comeback victory.

Unfortunately, the Royals were unable to get the bats going in the final innings and fell to the Turks 6-4. The loss by both Winchester and Aldie kept the standings as they were to begin the night with Winchester one game out of the final playoff spot.

Winchester will travel to New Market tomorrow night and try to pick up a half game on Aldie who has the night off.

Wednesday, July 9
Carpenter Shines in Relief, but Royals Fall to Rebels 1-0

By Josh Dorsey

Carpenter Shines in Relief, but Royals Fall to Rebels 1-0

Winchester – The Winchester Royals and New Market Rebels matchup Wednesday night at Bridgeforth Field pinned two teams desperate for a win to try and climb back into the Valley League playoff race. The Royals (10-17) started the evening five games behind Charles Town for a playoff spot while the Rebels (8-17) began the night six games out of a playoff berth.

Brian Fortier of Davidson College took the mound for Winchester hoping to improve on his (1-3) record and 6.43 ERA as a starter. Fortier was also hoping to pick up the Royals first win after the all-star break.

Royals coach Stu Richardson made some changes to the Royals lineup by moving Wes Hoover (Central Arkansas), who came into the game batting .318, into the leadoff role and moving Alex Mata (Saint Leo University) down to the ninth spot. The move paid off when Hoover started the game with a single and a stolen base, but a double play nixed the Royals ability to get the game’s first run in the opening inning.

Fortier and the Winchester defense showed their own flashes of brilliance in the field by turning double plays to end both the first and second innings.

Fortier hit his stride in the third inning by making quick work of the Rebels, striking out the first two batters and throwing out the third on an attempted bunt-for-hit.

It was the fourth inning that started the trouble for Winchester on Monday night’s loss to Waynesboro and the fourth inning once again stirred up distress for the Royals Wednesday night when the Rebels loaded the bases with no outs.

Fortier was forced out of the game after loading the bases with an injury. Mike Carpenter (2-1) of Virginia Commonwealth University took over for the injured Fortier. After entering the game in a difficult situation Carpenter walked in a run to give the Rebels a 1-0 lead but was able to minimize the damage by striking out two and getting a third out on a shallow pop fly.

Things looked grim for Winchester following the fifth inning when the side struck out and the Royals had not picked up a hit since the leadoff batter of the game. Despite their struggles at the plate Winchester remaining only down one run heading into the bottom of the sixth due to timely pitching by Carpenter and stellar defense. Winchester turned a season high three double plays in the first five innings.

Winchester threatened in the sixth inning by getting two runners in scoring position but were unable to get them across the plate to tie the game.

A magnificent performance by Michael Carpenter filling in for an injured Brandon Fortier kept the Royals in the game and only down 1-0 heading into the bottom of the ninth. Carpenter gave up just two hits and recorded 10 strikeouts in just over five innings of relief work. It was potentially the pitching performance of the season for the Royals.

Unfortunately, an invisible Winchester offense kept them off the scoreboard and handed the Royals their 18th loss of the season as they fell by a final of 1-0.

The Royals will be on the road Thursday night when they travel to Front Royal to take on the first place Cardinals (20-9).

Other Game Notes:

-Wes Hoover recorded two hits and a stolen base in his first game as the Royals leadoff hitter.

-The Royals have only recorded one run in their 18 innings since the all-star break.

-Josh Dorsey can be reached for comments at

Monday, July 7
Royals Start Strong, Fade Fast In 12-1 Loss to Generals

By Josh Dorsey

Royals Start Strong, Fade Fast In 12-1 Loss to Generals

Winchester – The Winchester Royals looked to get the second half of their season off on the right foot by adding one to the left column of their (10-16) record when they hosted the Waynesboro Generals (15-11) on Monday night.

Waynesboro currently holds one of the coveted four playoff spots in the Valley League by sitting in third place, just a half game up on the Charles Town Cannons. The Generals may have had the better record but the Royals looked to be the better team early on.

Brandon Vogler (1-2) out of North Carolina-Charlotte took the mound for the Royals and did not take long to make an impression on the Waynesboro batters. Vogler retired the first seven batters he faced including 5 strikeouts of the Generals.

Ekherd College’s Lucas Luopa picked up his 11th RBI of the season for Winchester with a two out single to left field in the bottom of the second inning that scored Michael Landestoy (Texas Christian University) from second base. The run gave the Royals one of their few early leads in a game this season.

Vogler was able to take a no hitter into the fourth inning when the leadoff man reached base and would eventually score when Zac Carter was unable to come up with the ball after a tremendous diving attempt in left field. Waynesboro was able to touch up Vogler for two more runs before he was able to work his way out of the inning. The three run, four hit inning left the Royals with a 3-1 deficit heading to the bottom half of the fourth inning.

The Generals were able to add a run in the fifth inning off an RBI double and a solo homerun in the sixth that chased Vogler from the game. Vogler was replaced by Jackson Berumen (1-1) of San Jose State University.

Berumen lasted until the seventh inning before giving way to hometown favorite Addison Barber who is a freshman at Old Dominion University. Waynesboro then added two more runs taking advantage of several Royals defensive miscues in the outfield.

Winchester, who had three hits in the second inning were shut down for the rest of the night by Waynesboro pitching, only managing five total hits for the game. Waynesboro was able to hammer 15 hits on their way to 12 runs in a barrage that began in the fourth inning and mercifully ended for the Royals when the Generals added two final runs in the top of the ninth inning.

The loss drops the Royals to (10-17) and keeps them in ninth place while Waynesboro’s win helps solidify them in their third place spot by improving their record to (16-11).

Winchester will play another make-up game Tuesday night when they will host the Harrisonburg Turks at 7p.m.

Monday, June 23
Carter, Cantrell Lead Royals to 3-2 Comeback Victory

By Josh Dorsey

Carter, Cantrell Lead Royals to 3-2 Comeback Victory

Winchester - The Winchester Royals (5-10) hosted the Charles Town Cannons (9-8) for a make-up game on Monday night. The Royals were hoping to rebound from the 11-2 beating they took at the hands of the Strasburg Express on Sunday night.

Brian Fortier (1-1) brought his 2.63 earned run average (ERA) to the mound against the Cannons and hoped to put a stop to the Royals routine of giving up early runs. Fortier was unable to do so when he allowed a leadoff triple followed by an RBI single to put Winchester in an early 1-0 hole. The good news for Fortier was that he was able to get out of the first only surrendering one run to the Cannons.

Charles Town once again recorded a leadoff extra base hit in the second inning and were able to eventually bring that run across to plate to pick up a run in both of the first two innings and put Winchester in the familiar position of playing from behind.

Fortier was able to keep the Cannons off the board in the third and fourth innings despite allowing the leadoff hitter to reach base in each inning.

Winchester was finally able to get the Cannons leadoff batter out for the first time in the top of the fifth inning. After recording two outs in the fifth Fortier was pulled in favor of Charles Cantrell (1-0) who was making his sixth appearance for Winchester and carried a team low 1.26 ERA into the game.

The Royals batters through the first five innings were clearly having a problem seeing the ball from the unorthodox side-arm delivery of Charles Town pitcher Austin Stephens (1-0). Stephens did not allow a hit through the first five innings.

After Brandon Canizares was hit by a pitch in the sixth Alex Mata was able to break up Stephens’ no hitter with a single into right field to establish the Royals first real threat of the night. Jerry Downs then loaded the bases with a walk for clean-up hitter Michael Landestoy. Landestoy broke up the Cannons’ shut out when he was hit by a pitch to bring in the Royals first run of the night. It appeared the Royals were going to take a lead on a ground ball by Zac Carter but Charles Town second baseman Chris Townsend made a sensational play to get the Cannons out of the inning clinging to a 2-1 lead.

Cantrell continued his excellent season on the mound for the Royals and kept them in the game by shutting down Charles Town after taking over in the fifth. Cantrell was able to retire 10 of the first 12 batters he faced.

Jerry Downs was able to line a single in to right field with two out in the eighth to chase Stephens from the game after giving up only his second hit of the night. Michael Landestoy followed Downs with another base hit and put the Royals in a threatening situation for the second time in the game for Zac Carter. This time Carter was able to capitalize for Winchester with a two RBI triple that brought the green and white fans to their feet and gave the Royals a 3-2 lead heading to the top of the ninth inning.

Cantrell stayed on the mound for Winchester to try and pick up the final three outs and a win for the Royals. He was able to take care of business and finalize the Royals exciting comeback to pick up his second win of the season while improving the Royals to (6-10).

Winchester will try and make it two in a row tomorrow night when they travel to New Market (8-10) for a 7 p.m. first pitch.

Sunday, June 22
Express Roll Over Royals, 11-2

By Josh Dorsey

Express Roll Over Royals, 11-2

Winchester – After an off day on Friday and a rain out on Saturday the Royals got back on the field Sunday evening against the Strasburg Express to try and string together two wins in a row.

Brandon Valentin of St. Thomas University took the mound for Winchester and the Royals showed their rust while continuing their disturbing habit of falling behind early in games. Valentin allowed a leadoff single and a walk to begin the game. The Express then cashed those base runners in on a double down the left field line putting Winchester in an early 2-0 hole.

The Royals’ Jerry Downs and Michael Landestoy collected two straight walks with two outs in the bottom of the first but they were unable to convert them into runs when Michael Sillyman struck out to end the inning.

Valentin was able to put the first inning behind him and put Strasburg down in order in the second.Winchester was able to threaten again in the bottom of the inning with back to back two out singles, but another untimely strikeout ended the inning with two runners stranded.

In the top of the third Valentin was able to work out of a bases loaded jam to keep the Express off the board.

Winchester once again stranded two runners on first and second base in the bottom of the fourth after Mac McCafferty reached on an error and Brandon Canizares drilled a single past the third baseman.

Valentin was pulled to start the fifth inning and the Express immediately jumped on reliever Tyler Gibson using three straight singles to load the bases with no outs. Winchester got what they wanted with a sharply hit ground ball to third and the force out at home plate, but catcher Mac McCafferty’s throw to first for the double play hit the base runner in the back, the error brought a third run across the plate for Strasburg giving them a 3-0 lead. Green Campbell took over for Gibson on the mound with two out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth and was able to get the Royals out of the inning.

The Royals mounted their first real threat in the bottom of the fifth when Wes Hoover was able to reach on a walk and Alex Mata was struck by a pitch in the back to get two on with no outs and slugger Jerry Downs to the plate. Downs was able to knock a single between the first and second baseman that scored Hoover but Mata was thrown out trying to advance to third on the play. The out proved to be costly for Winchester as Michael Landestoy singled on the next pitch that would have brought Mata in to score. Michael Sillyman was able to bring the Royals within one with a one-out RBI on a fielder’s choice. Winchester continued their season long trouble on the base paths when Sillyman was picked off of first base to end the inning.

The Express were able to answer the Royals fifth inning charge by taking advantage of two Winchester errors and two wild pitches to score three runs in the top of the sixth while recording just one hit. Jackson Berumen of San Jose State came in to relieve Green Campbell and allowed two more runs. Berumen was able to finish off the top of the sixth but Strasburg had done their damage and pulled out to what ultimately proved to be an insurmountable 8-2 lead.

Addison Barber took over for Berumen to start the seventh but wasn’t able to finish the inning as Strasburg was able to touch him up for three more runs increasing their lead to 11-2. Conner Staskey of Temple University relieved Barber. Staskey was able to contribute two scoreless innings from the bullpen.

The 11-2 loss drops the Royals back down to a tie for the bottom of the Valley Baseball League standings with a record of (5-10) while Strasburg improves their record to (5-11).

The Royals will be looking to get back on track at home again tomorrow night playing a make-up game against the Charles Town Cannons, first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Tuesday, June 17
Royals Comeback Falls Short, Lose to Woodstock 3-2

By Josh Dorsey

Royals Comeback Falls Short, Lose to Woodstock 3-2

Winchester – The Winchester Royals (4-7) were desperately seeking a win Tuesday night at home against the Woodstock River Bandits (3-7) after yet another rain cancelation on Monday night’s makeup game and a late inning loss on Sunday night to the Aldie Senators.

This is Winchester’s second game of the season against the River Bandits, they currently hold a 4-0 lead in the first matchup that was suspended after eight innings due to a power failure and will be finished at a later date.

Royals’ starter Brandon Vogler of North Carolina-Charlotte did not get off to the start he we looking to when allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base. However, Vogler was able to settle down and record two timely strikeouts to get out of the inning only allowing one Woodstock runner to cross the plate.

Vogler continued to flirt with disaster in the second inning, allowing two singles and walk to load the bases with no outs. He was again able to work his way out of the jam only giving up one run and kept the Royals in the game despite a plethora of early base runners for the River Bandits.

When Vogler allowed a base hit to the first Woodstock batter in the top of the third inning it was evident to head coach Stu Richardson that Vogler did not have his stuff on this humid Tuesday night. Vogler was replaced by University of New Mexico’s Tyler Gibson.

Gibson was able to work a solid two innings of relief keeping the score at 2-0 in favor of the River Bandits. Richardson chose to start the fifth inning with another pitching change and pulled Gibson in favor of Charles Cantrell from North Carolina A&T.

Winchester got their first real offensive threat in the fifth inning when Zac Carter led off with a chopper to third that ended up with him on second base after a throwing error. Carter then stole third base and put himself 90 feet from scoring the Royals first run of the night. The threat died though when Carter was picked off of third when the Royals put a safety squeeze on and the pitch got by the bat of Scott Miller.

An error put the leadoff man on for Woodstock in the top of the seventh, after he then stole second, two wild pitches later he was able to cross the plate for the River Bandits adding third run of the game.

Winchester finally struck in the bottom of the seventh inning. An errant throw after a Zac Carter single gave the Royals base runners an extra base allowing Jerry Downs to score the Royals first run of the game. A few pitches later and Carter was able to score on an infield hit by catcher Corey Chafin. Scott Miller popped out to end the inning but not before Winchester was able to narrow the lead to 3-2 and set themselves up for another close finish.

After cutting the lead to one coach Richardson chose to change pitchers for the fourth time and called on the Royals usual centerfielder, Green Campbell of Yale, on the mound. Campbell allowed the leadoff hitter to reach base but was able to keep Woodstock from scoring in the eighth. Campbell was able pitch 1 and 2/3 scoreless innings before the fifth pitching change of the night by Winchester. Luke Mould was called upon to get the final out in the ninth inning which he was able to do successfully and send Winchester to the bottom of the ninth down just one run.

The Royals were unable to get together any offense in the bottom of the ninth and therefore they did not get the result they were looking for, falling to the last place River Bandits by a final of 3-2.

Winchester will be in Staunton tomorrow night for a 7 p.m. start time.

Saturday, June 14
Former Royals Face Off in College World Series

By Josh Dorsey

Former Royals Face Off in College World Series

Winchester – Former Winchester Royals Mike Bianco (Mississippi Head Coach) and Karl Kuhn (University of Virginia Assistant Coach) have helped lead their teams into college baseball’s final eight, for a tournament more commonly known as The College World Series.

Oddly enough the two teams will face off against each other to begin the tournament on Sunday night, June 15 at 8p.m. from Omaha, Nebraska in a game that can be seen nationally on ESPN2.

Bianco formerly played for the Royals and Kuhn was a two-year coach with Winchester.

Since taking the Ole Miss head job in 2000 Bianco brought immediate success that he has sustained through his 13 seasons on the job.

In his 13 seasons Bianco has brought Ole Miss to prominence with 11 post season appearances, hosting four regionals and reaching four Super Regionals. This however, will be his first appearance in the College World Series.

"The road to the College World Series is one that's bumpy and winding," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco told the Ole Miss Rebels official athletic site. "I didn't expect it to take this long to get there, but you have to have a special group to do that and this is certainly a special group. We talked about it in the fall and then in the preseason. I'm really proud of this team.

Kuhn has 11 seasons under his belt as the pitching coach at the University of Virginia. Since he arrived with the Caveliers 11 seasons ago they have become a mainstay among the nation’s top pitching staffs each season. Since 2005 Virginia has tied for the nation’s lowest cumulative earned run average with an ERA of 3.14. In 2010 Kuhn was also the recipient of college baseball’s Tom House Teaching Professional of the year award. The award recognizes excellence in teaching pitchers and acknowledges years of continued education and study of the latest pitching techniques as identified by scientific fact and biomechanical research.

It will be UVA’s first game in Omaha since 2011.

As expected the two teams are similar, Ole Miss brings a record of 46-19 to Omaha while UVA carries a mark of 49-14. Both come out of respected power conferences with Ole Miss hailing from the Southeastern Conference and UVA the Atlantic Coast Conference.

While this will be a huge game for both Bianco and Kuhn’s teams neither will be eliminated from the tournament with a loss on Sunday night. The College World Series is eight teams split into two, four-team, double-elimination brackets, with the winner of each bracket playing in the best-of-three championship series. Though neither team will be eliminated Sunday night it is very important to avoid picking up a first loss in the opening game.

UC Irvine, Texas, Louisville and Vanderbilt make up the group one bracket that opens on Saturday while Ole Miss, UVA, Texas Tech and TCU make up the group two bracket. UVA does hold the highest national rank among the eight teams in the tournament with an overall ranking of 3.

Another former Royal, Steve Sabins, had his Oklahoma State Cowboys in the running for a College World Series appearance however they were eliminated from Super Regionals with a 1-0 loss to UC Irvine. Sabins serves as the player development coordinator for the Cowboys.

Be sure to continue reading and cheer for your former and current Winchester Royals!

Josh can be reached with comments at

Friday, June 13
Winchester Chops Down Lumberjacks 6-5 with Walkoff Squeeze

By Josh Dorsey

Winchester Chops Down Lumberjacks 6-5 with Walkoff Squeeze

Winchester -- The Royals (3-5) attempt to avenge the 9-3 thumping they took at the hands of the Covington Lumberjacks (4-1) on May 31 was delayed thirty minutes on Friday night when weather threatened to effect a third straight game for Winchester.

Fortunately, Mother Nature let up at Bridgeforth field and the Royals were able to get back on the field after two straight cancelations. Unfortunately for the Royals, Covington was able to jump all over hometown favorite Darrell Thompson (Shenandoah University) for two early runs in the top of the 1st inning. Thompson allowed a leadoff hit and then a questionable no-call of batter interference on a double steal later in the inning helped Convington’s rally in the first.

Winchester was able to cut the lead to one in the bottom of the first on clutch hitting by Memphis Universities Michael Sillyman when he was able to pick up his first RBI of the season on a two-out single up the middle that scored left fielder Michael Hyman from second base.

The Royals were able to threaten again in the bottom of the third inning after Hyman picked up his second hit of the night with a one-out double. However, Winchester was not able to get Hyman across the plate and The Lumberjacks took their 2-1 lead into the fourth inning.

The leadoff man became a problem again for Thomson in the top of the fourth inning. This time leading off the inning for Covington was Cody Strong, who muscled a double past Green Campbell in center field. The Lumberjacks were able to then turn to their small ball game and move Strong to third on a sacrifice bunt and then across home plate when a pitch got past Royals catcher Codey Chafin and roll to the backstop.

Thompson was chased from the game with a 5-1 deficit in favor of Temple Universities Connor Staskey after 4.2 innings pitched, allowing five runs on six hits.

Winchester showed some life with another clutch two-out hit, this time by designated hitter Jerry Downs of St. Thomas University. With runners on first and second Downs crushed a ball to the gap in right center for a 2 RBI double that cut the Lumberjacks lead to only 5-3 headed into the sixth inning.

Tyler Gibson took over on the mound for Winchester in the top of the 6th trailing by 5-3.

In the bottom of the sixth it was Covington making all the mistakes and Winchester taking advantage. Several hit batters and passed balls led a run by Winchester and a one run game with the bases loaded and two outs for Michael Landestoy from Texas Christian University. However, Landestoy flied out to right and the Royals were only able to score one run on the Lumberjack’s miscues.

In the bottom of the seventh the Royals were able to complete the comeback when Jerry Downs came to home plate and leveled Covington catcher Matt Fortin to score the games tying run in style.

Michael Carpenter made a solid pitching appearance for Winchester and sent the game into the bottom of the ninth tied at five with a chance to upset the second place Lumberjacks.

After a Jerry Downs walk with one out, coach Stu Richardson made the decision to pinch hit with Zac Carter. The decision paid off when Carter singled to right field moving Downs all the way to third base with one out and the tying run 90 feet away. Covington walked Scott Miller to load the bases and create a force at home. The chess match continued when Richardson went to his bench again with Brandon Canizares.

In a gutsy call the Royals sent Downs on a suicide squeeze, another decision the paid off for Winchester as Canizares laid down a perfect bunt and Downs was able to once again squeeze in at home to end the game with a Royals comeback 6-5.

There was some controversy at the end of the game if the Royals had continued running the bases, however Covington was unable to talk to umpires into changing the call on the field. Winchester improves to (4-5) and will be in Front Royal tomorrow night to play the Cardinals.

Royals Notes: Second Baseman Edwin Medina has left the team when he was selected in the MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. Congratulations to Edwin Medina.

Thursday, June 5
Royals Edge Braves in Sloppy Contest

By Josh Dorsey

Royals Edge Braves in Sloppy Contest

Winchester – The Winchester Royals may have still been feeling the effects of Wednesday night’s confusing finish in Woodstock that left the game suspended in the top of the ninth inning with Winchester leading by a score of 4-0 after a power failure. (That game will be finished at a later date.) Despite a sloppy start in the field and on the base paths against the Staunton Braves on Thursday night Winchester did manage to come out of the first inning with a 3-1 lead.

Royals’ starter Brian Fortier struggled in the first inning allowing two hits and walking two batters, however he was able to work his way through the inning only surrendering one run to the Braves.

Winchester’s offense was able to jump on Braves starter Kyle Andre on their half of the first inning scoring three runs despite a slew of base running errors including two Royals getting into run-down situations while in scoring position.

Fortier settled down in the second inning and only faced the minimum three batters. Sloppy play continued for Staunton when Winchester was able to increase their lead to 4-1 on an unearned run due to a throwing error by Staunton shortstop Richie Ricciardi.

Three errors by the Royals in the top of the fourth inning accounted for 2 unearned runs and narrowed Winchester’s lead to 5-3.

Brandon Richie replaced Kyle Andre on the mound for the Braves in the bottom of the fourth and inherited the 5-3 deficit. Richie was able to record the first scoreless inning all night in the fifth when the Royals stranded a runner on second base.

Brian Fortier left the game in line for a win after five innings only allowing one earned run. Jackson Berumen, who traveled all the way from San Jose State University to join the Royals this season took over for Fortier on the mound to start the sixth inning.

Berumen retired his first four batters faced before finding some trouble in the top of the seventh after a walk and an error by Royals first baseman Jerry Downs. With two runners on and only one out Berumen was taken out of the game in favor of Mike Carpenter.

Two of Carpenter’s pitches got past catcher Payton Thomas and rolled to the backstop leading to a Braves run and left the Royals with only a 5-4 lead heading into the seventh inning stretch.

Winchester was able to regain a two run lead after a Michael Sillyman triple lead to a run in the bottom of the seventh, however Staunton stayed within two when the Royals left the bases loaded.

In the top of the eighth Winchester was able to turn a huge double play to come within three outs of winning their second straight contest.

Clinging to a 6-4 lead Mike Carpenter and the Royals put runners on first and second with only one out. Alex Mata then turned the second Royals double play of the game on a chopper to third to end the game with a Winchester victory and improving their record on the season to (2-3).

Brian Fortier earned the win for the Royals and Kyle Andre recorded the loss for Staunton.

The Royals will try and continue their winning streak tomorrow night at home against the Waynesboro Generals, first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m.

Sunday, June 1
Cardinals Efficiency Outlasts’ Royals Power

By Josh Dorsey

Cardinals Efficiency Outlasts’ Royals Power

Winchester – A beautiful Sunday night at Winchester’s Bridgeforth field turned into somewhat of a homerun derby as three total homeruns were recorded at a park that does not typically yield many long balls. In the end it was the Cardinals ability to manufacture runs on their nine hits that gave the Royals a 6-2 loss and an (0-3) start to the 2014 season.

The Royals faced early trouble Sunday night in their home opener at Bridgeforth field when the Front Royal Cardinals threatened with two runners in scoring position after a double by Hunter Newman and a throwing error by Royals shortstop Alex Mata in the top of the second inning.

This time the Royals were able to get out of the early jam behind the left arm of Shenandoah Universities’ Darrell Thompson who struck out the next two Cardinals to end the inning.

Winchester’s offense responded quickly with a solo homerun crushed over the center field fence by first baseman Jerry Downs to lead off the second inning. Thompson was almost able to escape trouble again in the top of the fourth inning but Cardinals first baseman Chris Stevens crushed a two-run, two-out homerun to left field giving Front Royal a 2-1 lead.

Thompson finished his night with a quality start when he was pulled after the fifth inning in favor of Mike Carpenter. The hometown lefty finished the night allowing five hits and two earned runs with six strikeouts.

Front Royal was able to get to Carpenter early when a leadoff walk and a sacrifice bunt manufactured another run on a hit up the middle by third baseman Hunter Newman. Newman would cross the plate later in the inning to give the Cardinals a 4-1 lead in the sixth.

Winchester was able to chip away at the Cardinals lead and flex some muscle in the bottom of the sixth with a leadoff solo homerun by shortstop Alex Mata.

The seventh inning was more of the same for the Royals. The Cardinals were able to add two more runs after their leadoff batter was able to reach base for the fifth time in seven innings.

After shutting out Front Royal in the final two innings Winchester remained within striking distance only down four runs in the bottom of the ninth. However, Cardinals closer Kevin Beckett-Menditto was able close the door and hand the Royals a 6-2 loss, their third straight loss to start the season.

The Royals will be at home again on Tuesday night when they host the Aldie Senators at 7 p.m.