Kernersville Bulldogs right hander Duncan Everett (Barton College) has, so far, claimed the Rails line-up as his personal property. Working just five innings to secure his 12-0 no hitter weeks ago in Roanoke, Everett was pushed to work six innings in Saturday’s 1-0 win against the boys from Roanoke.
Bradley Mattox’s (Roanoke College) one out opposite field single in the first frame quickly erased any chance of Everett repeat performance. Rails starter Tyler Grouten (Roanoke College), went pitch for pitch with his Bulldog counterpart, delivering an excellent performance in his own right.
Hits were scarce throughout the contest and runs were a rumor. DJ Russ (Emory & Henry) gutted out a double in the second and a single in the fourth despite a head cold and a sore hamstring, yet was left stranded on base. The pitching duel continued on through the first five innings with each hurler erasing any scoring threat.
In the sixth, Cam Cassady (Roanoke College) and Russ lead off the inning, each reached base on fielding errors, and Lincoln Evans (Lynchburg College) added a single, but the Rails failed to put any runs on the scoreboard. Josiel Colon lead off the bottom of the sixth with a single for the Bulldogs, moved to second base on Kevin Conway’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Cody Atkins’s pinch hit single. Grouten gave way to lefty Ben Fraley (Walters State) who struck out Ray Crawford (UNC-Greensboro) and Alex Minton (Appalachian State) to close out the inning.
The Rails fell in order in the seventh, handing Grouten a hard fought 1-0 loss.
Game two featured Aaron Stidham (Hampden-Sydney) and UNC-Willmington’s Jared Gesell on the mound. Both pitchers battled through the first two innings to a scoreless tie, until Trip Dunn scored on a base hit by left-fielder Eric Connolly giving the Bulldogs a one run lead.
Opening the fourth outfielder Chris Mitko (Cal U of PA) legged out an error by shortstop Devin McLemore, Russ singled and Nic Love (PHCC) laid down a perfect bunt to load the sacks. Will Cline (UVA-Wise) hitless for the season, came up huge with an opposite line drive single in the gap to score Mitko and Russ. Roy Stanford’s sacrifice bunt (PHCC) moved Love and Cline over a base, Evans beat out an infield hit, and Andrew Tucker (Hampden-Sydney) drove in Love.
During the long visitors side of the fourth, reliever Alex Barr (Appalachian State) entered the game for the Bulldogs and quelled the Rails uprising. From that moment on, the Rails bats were in whisper mode. Despite the efforts of Stidham, Kyle Bandujo (Texas Permian-Basin), Ben Fraley and DJ Russ, the Bulldogs threw eight runs on the board to none by the Rails, completing their second straight sweep of the Rails 9-3.