By Ryan Decker
Orlando Barrios’ Charlotte Crushers (6-9) traveled to Roanoke, Virginia for its second double header in as many days on Sunday, looking to pick up a couple wins against a struggling Rails team.
The Rails (5-8) used a two-run first inning to take a lead it would not surrender to win the opening game, 3-2.
Pitchers were in command for much of Game 2, but in that game it was two runs in the Rails last at bat that made the difference in a 3-1 victory for Roanoke.
Roanoke jumped on the board quickly in Game 1, scoring two in the bottom of the first inning on back-to-back groundouts after each of the first three hitters reached to load the bases.
The Rails put runners in scoring position in each of the opening four innings, including loading the bases in the first and second.
Roanoke added one run in the fourth on a single by Ethan Goforth, giving the Rails a 3-0 lead.
Charlotte had scoring opportunities, but couldn’t push a runner across. The Crushers had a pair of runners in scoring position in the first, and had the sacks full in the fourth, but Roanoke starter Zack Kelly worked out of both jams.
Action was stopped for over an hour midway through the game after an umpire went down with a possible heat stroke, according to the Rails twitter account.
Charlotte was finally able to break through in the fifth.
Josh Hollifield continued his hot weekend at the plate, driving home a run to left field. He then came around to score on a double to right by Troy Rosado that pulled the Crushers to within one run, 3-2.
The comeback attempt fell short, though, as the Crushers lost by that score.
Pitchers were in control early on in Game 2.
Roanoke starter Jimmy Butler held the Crushers hitless the first time through the order, and Charlotte hurler Shaun Fogleman gave up just one hit and one walk through the first three frames.
The walk was issued to Cameron Wheeler, who stole second base and then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Wheeler scored two pitches later on a groundout, giving the Rails a 1-0 lead in the third.
Butler continued limiting base runners, even helping himself out by picking Garrett Goldberg off first to end the top of the fifth inning.
As was in the case in the first game of the day, Charlotte scored a run late.
Rosado whacked his second double of the day to right and then scored on a single by Joseph Hill.
This time, however, the Crushers run in the top of the sixth tied the game at one run apiece.
Roanoke threatened in the bottom of the inning, putting two runners in scoring position with just one out.
Conner Watt stole home with one out to give the Rails the lead, and then Tyler Blevins scored with the help of a Charlotte error, putting Roanoke in front 3-1.
Andrew Davis was able to come to keep the Rails from scoring any further, recording the final out with the bases loaded. However, the damage had been done.
After stranding a combined 13 runners on base in Saturday’s double header against Lenoir, the Crushers left seven on the bases in Game 1 and six more in Game 2 Sunday.
Hollifield concluded a great weekend at the plate by going 3-for-7 Sunday. He hit for a .467 average over the four games. He was the only Crusher to have multiple hits in either game today.
Charlotte is in the midst of a seven-game road stand. The Crushers play next on Tuesday at Mooresville at 7 p.m. at Moor Park. Charlotte won’t play another home game until Saturday against the Charlotte Police Department at 7:30 p.m.