The Roanoke Rails of the Carolina-Virginia Collegiate League are 19-14 after sweeping the Carolina Coyotes in baseball Sunday. The Rails won 3-1 and 11-10 at Salem’s Kiwanis Field.
Game one was an old-fashioned pitching duel between the Rails Matt Henderlite (Roanoke College and Lord Botetourt High School) and Brody Holloman of the Coyotes. Henderlite, who sports a 3-1 record this season, also carries a 2.85 ERA and once again he was up to the challenge.
The Rails got on the scoreboard early when second baseman Brett Simmons (Concord) singled, stole second and scored on a Tyler Blevins (Hampton-Sydney) RBI double to close the first inning.
In the second inning, the Coyotes quickly tied the game with back-to-back doubles by Alex Allen and Brandan Douglass. It was the only run they could muster while facing Henderlite.
In the home fourth, Dean Hermanson (Roanoke College) blasted a one-out double into the left-centerfield gap, and the Rails were in business. Connor Watt (PHCC) drew a four-pitch walk, and Brice Arrington (U of Charleston) doubled to plate Hermanson, followed by a Nic Ratliff single bringing Watt across the plate for the Rails third run of the game.
Henderlite finished off the visitors with another sterling performance, penning a five-hit complete game, striking out three, and walking just one batter.
Game two was a wild affair, closing on a walk-off triple.
Rails game two pitcher Kellen Larkin struggled mightily with the strike zone in the first inning, walking three of the first Coyote batters, allowing a single to Ryan Jones, and scoring Joe Stucky. With the bases full of Coyotes, Matt Reeves clobbered a grand slam home run that bounced off the scoreboard in left field. When the dust cleared, Carolina had notched seven runs in the inning.
The Rails were in quite a hole; however, this group is never out of a game. Leadoff hitter Ethan Goforth singled, followed by a base hit to right field by Nelson Stanley. Coyotes pitcher Nick Haithcox then proceeded to walk four batters, hit one batter and let up four runs to make the score a reasonable 7-4.
In the third, the Coyotes picked up a run on a wild pitch with runners on second and third. In the fourth, Collier Knox knocked a two-run home run across Sixth Street, scoring the 10th run of the game for Carolina.
In the home half of the fourth, Goforth crushed a solo homer to left-center field, leading off the inning. In the sixth, Noah Cook (VMI) singled to start the inning, and eventually scored an infield error. Reliever Joe Hughes threw a perfect seventh for Rails and now it was the bats’ turn to win the game.
Ben Harron (Randolph-Macon) walked to start the seventh inning and Cook took a stroll to first as well. Cameron Wheeler reached on a two-out fielder’s choice and the Rails were down to their last out.
Looking to prolong the game, Goforth lined a two-run double plating Harron and Cook. Stanley punched a soft base hit scoring Goforth, and Adam Linkous (Concord) walked to load the sacks.
Blevins worked the count to two balls and two strikes, as the home crowd stood in silence. Blevins connected perfectly with the ball, driving it to the deepest part of the ballpark, as all three base runners scored for a stunning 11-10 win.
The Rails remain in second place in the CVCL Western Division behind Mooresville. Roanoke will host the North Wake Fungo on Friday at 6 p.m. It’s “All Rails Alumni Night” and any former Roanoke Rail player is admitted into the game free of charge and will be recognized prior to the beginning of the game.