By Ryan Decker
SALEM, VA – Riding a recent hot streak, the Charlotte Crushers (13-12) looked to continue their winning ways on the road against the Roanoke Rails (13-11) Sunday, playing their second double header in as many days.
A pair of home runs powered the Crushers to a lead in Game 1, while a long ball produced Charlotte’s only run in Game 2.
Roanoke rebounded from a 5-4 loss in the first game to earn a 6-1 victory in the second.
Pitching controlled the action through the first four innings in Game 1, but Charlotte took the lead in the fifth.
Bradley Isaac reached on a bunt single and Josh Hollifield walked to load the bases with two outs. Roanoke starter Seth Burris continued to struggle with control, issuing walks to each of the next two hitters – James Porcelly and Troy Rosado –, forcing home two runs.
The Rails wasted no time responding, scoring three runs in the bottom of the frame.
With one run already in, Brett Simmons slapped a two-out single to left, driving in two runners to give Roanoke a 3-2 lead.
Charlotte flexed its muscle in the sixth.
Hitting with a runner on, Nick Roets drilled a pitch to left, the hit clearing the wall for a two-run, go-ahead home run. Justin Williams, the next hitter, also made solid contact and connected for the Crushers second-straight home run.
Roets said after the game that he saw himself hitting the long ball in a dream on the way to the stadium.
Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the final inning, Roanoke scored a run on an infield single by Brett Simmons, but likely would’ve tied the game had Roets not kept the ball in the infield.
Myles Levy entered the game in relief after a walk, and needed just three pitches to record the final out for the save in the 5-4 Crushers win.
Charlotte’s offense was held very much in check in the second game.
The Crushers could muster just one hit through the first four innings, a solo home run to left field by Hollifield in the first.
Roanoke went on to score six unanswered runs, striking for one in the first and second innings to take a 2-1 lead.
Adam Linkous pushed the advantage to two runs with an RBI single in the fourth, which was followed up two hitters later by a two-run single by Nic Ratliff.
Crusher starting pitcher Joseph Hope struggled with control during his 3.1 innings on the mound, issuing eight walks and throwing close to ninety pitches.
Hope’s counterpart, Bryson Booher, was extremely tough on Charlotte hitters.
Roanoke took Game 2 by a score of 6-1.
Earning the Nickname
Entering play on Sunday, the Crusher had only hit four home runs as a team. They nearly doubled that with the three long balls against the Rails.
Hitting Streaks Come and Go
A pair of Crusher hitters saw their hit streaks come to an end Sunday.
An 0-for-4 performance in Game 1 ended Noah Whalen’s team-high eight-game hitting streak. And Williams going hitless in Game 2 halted a five-game streak.
Hollifield, last week’s CVSCL Player of the Week, continues to see the ball well, and now has matched Whalen’s streak at eight games in a row with a hit.
Charlotte continued to stay hot as a team this week, playing to a 4-2 record in six games Wednesday through Sunday.
The Crushers picked up wins on the road against a very good Kernersville team, and wins over the Virginia Marlins and Roanoke Rails.