In an aerial display rivaling the Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza at Mill Mountain in Roanoke, the Division I heavy Kernersville Bulldogs played long ball all afternoon with the Roanoke Rails. Leading the league in the standings and perennially the favorite to win the CVCL crown, the Bulldogs combined power and strong pitching to sweep the Rails 12-3 and 8-5, in Roanoke final home games of the season.
Rails starter Ryan Anderson (Bryan College) was rudely met in the first inning, greeted by a solo home run by Macon Smith (Western Carolina) and a two run shot by Ray Crawford (UNC-Greensboro). Plating four runs in the first, the Bulldogs sent Brian Connelly to the mound with a cozy lead. Not to be denied their place in the spotlight, the Rails fought back with two runs of their own, courtesy of Andrew Tucker’s (Hampden-Sydney) two run home run scoring himself and Eric Houff (Emory & Henry). The home run was one of three hits for Tucker who reached base four times in game one.
Anderson battled through the next four innings allowing just two earned runs. The Bulldogs continued to pile up runs on reliever Kyle Bandujo (Texas-Permian), who saved some runs with a spectacular line drive grab double-play in the sixth. The Rails added a third run in the seventh when Carter Brown (VA Tech Club) drove home Tucker who had doubled and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
Dropping the first game 12-3, the Rails called on Zach Folger (Roanoke College) to face the vaunted Bulldog line-up in game two. Coming off a very solid first start of the season, Folger held down Kernersville, allowing just two runs over four innings. Coming to the aid of his college teammate, Mark Manthe (Roanoke College) doubled to lead off the second, moved to second on a perfect sacrifice but by Mike Blanchard (Hampden-Sydney) and scored on a ground ball by another Maroon, catcher Matt Wallman (Roanoke College). Brown kept the inning going with a single up the middle and scored on Cody Meyer’s (Adrian College) game tying opposite field base hit.
The Rails took the lead in the fourth on an infield error that scored Brown, yet the Bulldog’s Smith belted his second home run of the day, a two run shot which passed the lead back to the visitors, 4-3. The Bulldog’s lead would not last past Josh Crout (Lake Erie College) who walloped a home run over the left field fence to lead off the home fifth to, once again, tie the score at four.
In the sixth, Folger walked Joe Turkson (Campbell University) to start the inning and retired the next two batters. Brandon Harrison (Surry CC) a reserve who did not play in game one, drove Folger’s 1-0 pitch deep into the trees over the left fielder wall, spotting pitcher Casey Smith (Brevard College) to a two run lead. Reliever Will Kaufman (Cal U of PA) come on in relief of Folger and was victimized by Smith who launched his third home run of the afternoon. Smith was 5-7 for the double-header with three home runs, six RBI’s, and, believe it or not, one sacrifice bunt.
Lloyd Enzor crushed a missile over the left center field fence in the seventh to give his team a four run cushion going into the seventh. Down to their last three outs, the Rails would face reliever Garrett Hickman (Surry CC) in the seventh. Behind Rails first baseman Taylor Barrett (Lenoir-Rhyne) Garrett lost control of a fast ball which hit Barrett flush in the face. Remaining on his feet, Barrett was ready to take his base before pinch runner Brandon Lucas (Emory & Henry) took his place. Zach Russell Myers, who closed out the first game relieved Hickman on the mound for the bulldogs. Lucas would score on RBI base hit by Wallman, making the final 8-5 in favor of the Bulldogs.