The great state of California had a rather uneven weekend passed. Racehorse California Chrome would fall one victory short of the elusive triple crown, yet the Roanoke Rails left coast pitching import Brandon Creesy (Arizona Christian) brought shutout stuff to the mound, blanking the high powered Catawba All-Stars 2-0.
The big lefty from Monterey California was sensational this afternoon holding the Stars to just one hit in five complete innings of work. Stars right-hander Gavin Huffman (Catawba CC) matched Creesy pitch-for-pitch until the last of the fifth inning when Keith Yancey (Bluefield College) led off the frame with a base hit and has moved over to second on a Ryan Peevey (Hampton-Sydney) sacrifice bunt. DJ Russ (Emory & Henry), who led the Rails in RBI’s and game winning hits last season, knocked a line drive single to center field to stake the Rails to a one run lead.
Easton Riggs (Ferrum College) threw a scoreless sixth in relief, returning to his 2013 form. Looking for an insurance run (or two) first baseman Will Kaufman (Cal U of PA) drew a two out walk and advanced to second base on a Hunter Allen (Southern Virginia) single. Kaufman scored on two consecutive wild pitches and the Rails were up two runs going to the final inning.
2013 Rails MVP, closer Steven Ball (George Mason) would stride to the mound to close the show in the seventh. As is his custom, Ball splintered the lead off batter’s bat into five pieces, struck out the next victim, and coaxed a ground ball out to preserve the shutout.
Game two, however, was a different story. Matt Pope (U of Kentucky), who was drafted by the Miami Marlins on this day, brought his ninety plus fastball and a whole new Catawba line-up. What followed were fourteen hits, including a towering home run by Bryson Bowman (Catawba CC).
The Rails put together a run in the third when Austin Lowman (Randolph-Macon) walked and was doubled in by second baseman Pat Love (PHCC). In the final inning Griffin Stanley (Eastern Menonitte) belted a double to right field and scored on an infield error.
Pope gave way to left-hander Shane Murli (USC-Beaufort) in the fourth inning, who was his usually dominant self, striking out seven and yielding but one hit. Final score: Stars 9 Rails 2.