The last time Martin Henderlite pitched for the Roanoke Rails was in late July, 2012. The Lynchburg College Junior authored a mound gem that day providing the Rails with their first victory against the vaunted Kernersville Bull dogs in team history. Today in Charlotte, Henderlite showed why he was the 2013 ODAC conference Pitcher of the Year and a vital piece of a strong Roanoke pitching staff.
Facing Crushers right hander Kyle Shepherd (College of Mt. St. Joseph), the Rails bats were silent until inning three, when iron man Catcher Ryan Peevey (Hampden-Sydney) led off the frame with a single. Pat Love (PHCC) connected with a one out base hit, Lincoln Evans (Lynchburg College) walked and DJ Russ (Emory & Henry) scored on a bases loaded walk to centerfielder Griffin Stanley (Eastern Mennonite). Right fielder Chrisitian Sanderson (Randolph-Macon) would plate Evans with a sacrifice fly for run number two and Will Kaufman (Cal U of Pa) laced a gap seeking single to score Stanley to stake Henderlite to a three run lead.
In the fourth, the flood gates opened as the Rails sent ten batters to the plate. Four runs scored as a result of multiple walks, hits batsmen and Crusher’s fielding miscues. Henderlite was brilliant, throwing six shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out four. Austin Gregory (Roanoke College) made quick work of the home team his in one inning of relief blanking the side to preserve the 7-0 victory.
Game two was, in a word, bizarre. Zach Kelly (Concord U) was coming off an excellent outing on the mound on opening day and talk of a sweep was in the air. From his first pitch, Kelly was bewildered by the home plate umpire’s ever morphing strike zone. Crusher’s lefty starter Nick Benedetto (Anderson U) was even more vexed than Kelly, yielding one error filled run on a round trip walk by Chad Frazier (Francis Marion) in the first and six more runs in the second inning, struggling to find the plate and allowing six walks and two hit batsmen.
Exhausted from the trip and a one hour and fifteen minute delay before game one (waiting for the game two plate umpire to show up), the Rails let the Crushers back in the game with some faulty play on their own. Seth Breasseale (Barton) did a nice job for the Crusher’s on the mound, holding the Rails at bay for the remainder of the game.
In the seventh, the Crusher’s were knocking on the door, down 8-6. Chaztin Venezia (USC-Beaufort) led off the inning with a double and scored on a base hit by Jack Cockrum (West Alabama). With the game in the balance, sidearm reliever Kyle Goddard posted his fourth strike out in two inning of work, to seal the sweep for the Rails earning a save in the 8-7 victory.
The Rails one two and lost two this weekend, and played just one catcher. First year player Ryan Peevey, had two hits in game two and showed hustle and grit in every inning. Peevey exemplifies the spirit of this young Rails group, a team that plays for the love of the game and promises a great future for their Roanoke Valley fans.