When last we saw the Roanoke Rails, they were playing in the Carolina-Virginia Collegiate Summer League championship game with their starting shortstop on the mound. Fast forward to 2014, and we find a very young edition of the Roanoke team with a war chest full of pitchers, and a new home ballpark.
Following one day of practice, the Rails took on a newcomer to the CVCSL in their home opener. The Carolina Pirates (based in Wake Forest, NC), are a talented collection of players, clad in gold and black and looking to name for themselves in the league.
With staff ace Michael Mnich (Alderson & Broaduss) on the hill for the Rails in game one, stealing a game from Roanoke seemed unlikely, yet someone forgot to tell that to the visitors, as the Bucs took opener 7-2.
The Pirates struck first in second inning when UNC-Greensboro’s Dillon Stewart smoked a line drive home run over the leftfield wall. The Rails responded the bottom of the frame, with an RBI ground ball from Paul Williams (Concord University) scoring Nic Love (PHCC) who opened the inning with walk.
Carolina’s starting pitcher Zach Cooper (Wake Tech) silenced the Rails bats for the next three innings, until Christian Sanderson (Randolph-Macon) connected with his second hit of the contest and scored on Will Kaufman’s (Cal U of PA) single to left.
Unfortunately, that was all the firepower the Rails could muster in game one.
In game two Zach Kelly delivered five innings of strong pitching striking out four, limiting the Pirates to just three hits and no earned runs. The Rails bats got going quickly in the night cap. In the second, catcher Ryan Peevey reached on a lead walk, followed by a double by Keith Yancey (Bluefield College). Third baseman Joey Sutphin’s (Hampden-Sydney) opposite field single scored Peevey, Austin Lowman’s (Randolph-Macon) single scored Yancey and Chad Frazier’s (Francis Marion) sacrifice fly, scored Sutphin to stake Kelly to a three run lead.
Frazier, would single, swipe two bases and score another run in the fifth inning for the fourth run of the game. Closer Austin Gregory (Roanoke College) would slam the door with two effective innings in relief for the Rails despite a two run blast from Stewart in inning seven. A rare 9-5 double play capped the afternoon with Lowman doubling off Nick Debo (Brunswick CC) off second base.