The Roanoke Rails of the Carolina-Virginia Collegiate League are just a game and a half behind the Mooresville Spinners in the Western Division with the post-season tournament fast approaching. The baseball tournament is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, July 25.
The Rails hosted the hard-hitting Catawba Valley Stars for a doubleheader at Salem’s Kiwanis Field last Sunday afternoon. Rails righthander Mike Mnich, a Lord Botetourt graduate, would pitch another gem with the help of MVP candidate Rails catcher Ethan Goforth.
The Stars got busy early, when Andres Perez walked leading off the game. Spencer Yankle’s two out triple to centerfield scored Perez and the Rails were down a run early. Despite allowing a run to cross the plate, Mnich struck out the side in the first.
In the bottom of inning, Rails second baseman Brett Simmons (Concord) one out single to right field was followed by a bunt hit by Goforth (Carson-Newman). With two outs in the frame Dean Hermanson (Roanoke College) hit the ball to the backhand of Trey Martin, who could not glove the ball as Simmons crossed with the tying run.
The Stars took a 3-1 lead in the top of the fourth but Rails got one back in the bottom of the inning. Hermanson walked to lead-off and Cameron Wheeler’s (Randolph-Macon) ground ball advanced Hermanson to second. Stars’ pitcher Mike Boswell then balked to move Hermanson to third base. A wild pitch by Boswell allowed Hermanson to score with no hits in the bottom of the frame.
Nelson Stanley (EMU) led off with bottom of the fifth with a opposite field base hit to left field for the Rails and his brother Griffin reached on an error. Simmons grounded into a fielder’s choice for the first out of the inning and Goforth strode to the plate. With the count even at 1-1, Goforth launched a three-run home run, landing in the top part of the left field net and providing the Rails a 5-3 advantage.
In the sixth, the Rails kept the up heat with hits from Wheeler, Nelson Stanley, and Griffin Stanley to load the bases. Simmons then stepped to the plate and mashed a three RBI double, clearing the bases and creating a five run gap for the Rails.
Mnich closed the game with an 8-4 victory. The LB grad scattered eight hits, walked two, and struck out nine.
The Stars bounced back in the nightcap to take a 12-2 win, with Botetourt’s Matt Henderlite taking the loss on the mound. The Rails were scheduled to host the Carolina Coyotes at William Byrd High School on Tuesday, and this Saturday, July 22, they have a big doubleheader against the Lenoir Oilers at Kiwanis Field, beginning at noon.
The Rails will wrap up the regular season Sunday with a doubleheader in Lenoir. The tournament is scheduled to start Tuesday and it will be in Mooresville, near Charlotte, N.C.