Since taking over the concession stand operations three seasons ago with his son, Noah, and daughter, Lily, the Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks have won three straight Rockingham County Baseball League championships, the last of which arrived Monday in a 3-0 win over Clover Hill.
"I've told the president of the club, 'Since we've taken it over, we've won it all three years, so we're here to stay,' " Templeton said.
In the decade since the Diamondbacks first called the location home, transforming what once was a softball field into an impressive facility that includes box seats, new netting, a press box and manicured infield and outfield grass, it's taken time for the club to take home a championship.
Like any good organization, the Diamondbacks had to find the right pieces. Manager Tinker Kiser, who's been on board since the debut year in 2004, found the sweet spot in 2012, taking the team to its first championship.
He repeated a year ago and wrapped up the three-peat on Monday.
"It's awesome," Kiser said. "I didn't know if we had enough pitching and I didn't know if we'd get as strong performances, but they gutted it out. We got hitting when we needed it and pitching when we needed it and somehow we managed to pull it off."
But he wasn't alone.
Along for the ride were familiar faces behind the backstop, fans who had been out to the first game and spent years following the team in the ensuing years. That included 79-year-old Bill Sullender, a former scorekeeper of the club, who needed use of a walker to get to the park.
With a house located just beyond the center-field wall, he was in close proximity to the action on most summer nights. Sullender would find himself at the ball park more often than not.
"There's been a ball field here ever since I moved up here in 1964," he said. "But it hasn't been like this. There used to be horse shows and carnivals here. The games with Clover Hill have been kind of a rivalry, and they used to beat us in the finals."
"But," he said, "it's our turn now. So this is sweet."
The club is beginning to see the payoff in attendance. Usually playing host to just a smattering of fans along the bleachers, box seats and along the hill that sits parallel to the left field line, on Monday the Diamondbacks saw a huge uptick in paying customers.
Any series-clinching championship game will do that, sports information director Roger Cooper said.
But by the end of the night, Cooper said, the final gate brought home over $2,000, almost four times what most nights would take in.
Over the years, the money has been put to good use, with the organization spending on updates to the netting around the backstops and installing a press box that sits just beyond the box seats.
The Diamondbacks are currently looking to buy a new scoreboard, which would display inning-by-inning scores, runs, hits and errors.
The championships the Diamondbacks have won over the last three seasons were rooted in the winning tradition the team has established over the years.
But over that same time, there's been an residual effect, too: in the community support which
has driven a small local club with big aspirations into a quality organization with a facility
worth the three hours it takes to watch a baseball game in Stuarts Draft.
The Diamondbacks closed out their best-of-seven series with the Bucks with theatrics.
"It's a crazy game, man," Thompson said. "You never know what's going to happen. Last game they had a big error that cost them. Sometimes it falls that way."
For the Diamondbacks, it almost seemed like it wouldn't. In the third inning, a potential run was thwarted when the Buck's clogged up a play at the plate following a single to center field.
The very next frame, Stuarts Draft put three men on base with one out, only to finish out the inning with a double-play.
By the fifth, in a game that was becoming a pitcher's duel, the Diamondbacks had lost out on a number of opportunities. But then came their moment.
"You don't give good teams extra outs and everybody knows that," Stuarts Draft manager Tinker Kiser said. "We got an opportunity and Jay cashed in on it. That's what it takes."
On the mound, Stuarts Draft's Jeremy Fitzgerald looked as strong as ever, hitting the inside corner with perfection as he tossed eight quality innings with nine strikeouts, giving up just three hits.
The former Atlanta Braves prospect, who gave up baseball after leaving baseball following training camp this season, had joined the D'Backs on a favor to Kiser, who had helped Fitzgerald through the years in professional baseball.
The 2009 graduate of Stuarts Draft didn't disappoint, winning game one of the series in dominant fashion as well, with the team cashing in on an 15-0 outing.
Clover Hill gave the starting nod to Buffalo Gap and Bridgewater graduate Nick Corbin, who went six-plus innings before being relieved by Jordan Showalter.
On Monday, Clover Hill couldn't match up to Fitzgerald, who earlier in the year had minted off a 17 strikeout game over Broadway.
"We got hitting when we needed it and pitching when we needed it and somehow we managed to pull it off," Kiser.
This marked the third straight year the D'Backs had claimed the RCBL championship and it was the second straight season they had defeated Clover Hill in the final best-of-seven series.
Following years of success in the RCBL, the Bucks haven't been able to turn the corner since Stuarts Draft first defeated them in 2012. "When you get beat every year, you start thinking you can't beat them," Kiser said. "You probably [have] the little feeling that they are invincible, but we just came out and gave it our best shot every night and let the chips where they fall and they fell in our favor this year."
Stuarts Draft won its third consecutive RCBL championship in what is Manager Tinker Kiser's final year at the helm.
"Isn't this something?" Kiser said, holding the trophy. "I love this, but it just beats me to death."
Kiser said that he'll retire to some fishing and a week at the beach to celebrate.
"We just had some tremendous pitching this whole series," Kiser said. “One of our weaknesses was our pitching depth, but it really didn't show this series."
While Fitzgerald was shutting down the Bucks' potent hitters, the Diamondbacks took advantage of the lone Clover Hill error to win the game. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Mitchell Shifflett reached on an error. Corbin Lucas followed with a single to left - his second hit of the night.
What happened next doomed the Bucks. Thompson drilled a 3-1 pitch just over the fence in left to plate the three runs. "(Bucks pitcher Nick Corbin) had been coming inside all night, Thompson said. "He left that pitch over the plate and I connected with it."
Fitzgerald kept Clover Hill off the bases - allowing just four base runners all night - and shut down the Bucks when he needed to. His fastball was hitting the corners and his curve gave hitters fits all night.
"My inside fastball was my pitch all night," Fitzgerald said. "I let the hitters do most of the work. They were beating the ball into the ground and my defense made the plays."
Clover Hill hit just eight balls into the air and hit into one double play.
Fitzgerald - who won his second game of the championship series - and Thompson were named the championship Most Valuable Players.
For Thompson, who hit .417 during the regular season, it was his second playoff home run. He hit two during the regular season. He was also flawless in the field and was involved in several playoff double plays.
"I like taking hits away from guys as much as I like hitting them," he said.
Regular season MVP Ryan Cooper said that the team's success had to do with a good mix of veteran players and young high school ball players contributing. "I've got to give credit to Coach Kiser," he said. He's all about keeping the vets and going out and finding some new talent. These new guys really came in and contributed.”
Cooper also praised the defense. "Our D has been great. It's great to score a lot of runs, but when you’re pitcher throws shutouts and the defense makes the plays behind him, it makes it a lot easier."
Thompson led the charge with three hits while Lucas, Donovan Huffer and T.J. Frazier added two each.
Fitzgerald struck out 8, walked one and allowed just the three hits.
The hard-throwing right hander joined the Diamondbacks a couple of weeks before the regular season ended. "Tinker helped me a lot in pro ball and I felt that I owed him a favor," Fitzgerald said.
The Diamondbacks had lost some pitchers to attrition and tired arms and Kiser called on his friend to help out in the stretch.
Two shutouts later, Stuarts Draft has another RCBL trophy to add to its collection.
Cooper and Bucks pitcher Andrew Armstrong were locked in a scoreless pitching due until the Diamondbacks took over in the seventh inning.
Armstrong began to labor with two outs in the bottom of the frame. With two base runners on, Armstrong walked Jay Thompson to load the bases. Cooper then hit a routine grounder that was booted by Bucks third baseman Addison Bowman for a two-run error.
Dimitt made Bowman pay as the first baseman smashed the ball over the center field fence for a three-run dinger. Clark then smacked the next pitch over the left field fence to make it 6-0.
But Cooper - who hit the 100 pitch mark - also began to tire in the top of the eighth as Clover Hill got to the RCBL Most Valuable Player with three runs. Cooper got Josh Eberly on a strikeout to open the inning, but then gave up two hits and two walks before being lifted for Tyler Bridge.
Bridge plunked the first batter he faced and gave up an RBI single to Armstrong before getting a couple of grounders for force outs at the plate.
Bridge then worked around a walk to close out the game.
Cooper picked up the win with a seven-inning effort. He allowed eight hits, three runs - all earned - and struck out five. Bridge got the save.
Armstrong, despite not giving up an earned run, took the loss.
Cooper and T.J. Frazier each had a couple of hits for Stuarts Draft.
Bowman, despite the huge error in the seventh, had three hits to lead the Bucks. The bottom four batter of the Clover Hill order got just two hits.
Game 4 will be at Clover Hill Saturday night at 7:30.
The Clover Hill pitcher tossed seven innings of six-hit ball and the Bucks made up for Tuesday night's thrashing with and 8-1 win over Stuarts Draft in Game 2 of the Rockingham County Baseball League Championship Series at Buck Bowman Field Wednesday night.
The Bucks' win evened the series at 1-1. Game three will be played at Stuarts Draft on Friday night.
Clover Hill opened the scoring off Diamondbacks pitcher Chris Hinkle with a four-run second inning. Evan Hanifee and Christian Simmers both had RBI doubles in the frame as five straight Bucks reached base.
Stuarts Draft Manager Tinker Kiser then called upon Waynesboro High School hurler Treavor Norman and the senior stopped the bleeding with a couple of ground outs to get out of the inning.
But the Bucks added a run off Norman on a Jason Beale RBI double in the third.
Stuarts Draft finally got to Chandler with a run in the top of the seventh. Ryan Cooper singled, moved to second on a grounder by Ryan Coale, and scored on a single by Trevor Lam.
Chandler was lifted in the top of the eighth after giving up his first walk of the night. The Diamondbacks loaded the sacks against reliever Ian Ostland with a couple of singles, but the Turner Ashby/Virginia Tech pitcher struck out RCBL Most Valuable Player Ryan Cooper on three pitches to end the threat.
Clover Hill added insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth on a Shane Banks single and a two-run homer by Andrew Armstrong. That made it 8-1, Bucks.
Brenan Hanifee tossed a perfect ninth to hold the win.
Armstrong was 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBI while Addison Bowman also had three hits for Clover Hill.
Stuarts Draft was led by two-hit efforts by Mitchell Shifflett, Cooper and Lam. Lam had the only RBI.
Clark's two-run blast capped a 5-0 fourth inning that broke open a scoreless game. Thompson added a solo shot in the fifth and Lam drilled a three-run blast to center in the eighth to make a winner of Fitzgerald.
The righty was lifted in the eighth after throwing 117 pitches. He gave up eight hits, four walks and struck out five. Fitzgerald (3-1) got out of bases-loaded jams in the third and seventh to send the Diamondbacks to the win. Stuarts Draft is looking for its third straight RCBL championship.
Bucks' starter Eric Yankee didn't allow a hit through the first three innings, but the Diamondbacks picked up five in the fourth off six hits. Besides the homer by Clark, Ryan Cooper, Wes Dimitt and Ryan Coale each knocked in runs.
Thompson's homer made it 6-0 in the fifth as Yankee (0-2) was lifted for Eric Liskey. Liskey tossed scoreless ball over the sixth and seventh innings.
But Stuarts Draft ripped the game open with a nine-run eighth. The Diamondbacks sent 15 batters to the plate. Lam's homer - his sixth homer of the season - made it 9-0. Mitchell Shifflett, Thompson and Tyler Wilcher all had RBI in the frame.
T.J. Frazier pitched the final two innings and allowed just one hit to preserve the win. Thompson and Lam each had three hits to lead the Diamondbacks. The hosts pounded out 15 hits.
The Bucks were led by Andrew Armstrong who had three hits and Addison Bowman who had two.
Game 2 will take place Wednesday night in Clover Hill.
The Blue Sox struck first, getting on the board thanks to some struggles by the Diamondbacks' pitching staff. Draft starter Trevor Noorman walked Logan Furloines with the bases loaded, bringing J.J. Loker in from third. Draft answered back in the next inning, as Brandon Clark scored on a groundout by Trevor Lam. The Diamondbacks then helped Elkton score another run in the third inning, as an error by first baseman Wes Dimitt allowed Loker to come home from third and go up 2-1.
That was the last time the score was close, as the Diamondbacks erupted for seven runs over the next three innings. Ryan Cooper, named this week as the regular season MVP for the Rockingham County League, got things started in the fourth inning with a single. He then took second base on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Dimitt. All total, Draft scored four runs in the fourth inning. Cooper would score again in the fifth inning, off a single by Brandon Clark, to make it 6-2. Mitchell Shiflett and Jay Thompson capped the scoring in the sixth with RBI singles.
Noorman picks up the win, after going five innings, while giving up two runs off two hits. He struck out five and walked eight on the night. Kevin Feehan took the loss for Elkton, giving up five runs on five hits in just over three innings of work.
With the win, Draft advances to the championship round, where they’ll play the winner of
Luray-Clover Hill. Clover Hill held the 8-7 lead late Thursday night.
This year, he finished the regular season with a .445 batting average, with 53 hits and 34 RBI. He also hit 5 home runs and collected a .664 slugging percentage. Cooper also had a 0.95 ERA, with a 4-0 record and three saves on the year. The Stuarts Draft High School alumnus and his teammates won the regular season pennant for the Rockingham County League this season, going 23-5 during the course of the year.
Joe Burris of the Elkton Blue Sox, who are currently competing against Draft in the semi-finals of the playoffs, was named Rookie of the Year. Burris recorded a .394 batting average on 39 hits, 17 RBI and a .485 slugging percentage. The Charlottesville native redshirted this past year, during his freshman season at Virginia Tech. He was the 2013 Commonwealth District Player of the Year at Albemarle High School.
Larry Weaver was named Manager of the Year, after his Luray Cavemen finished 19-9 and in third place during the regular season.
Luray's Tyler Hott meanwhile was named Pitcher of the Year, after the Strasburg native went 6-1, with a 2.15 ERA. Hott pitched 54 1/3 innings with 44 strikeouts for the Cavemen.
The Blue Sox meanwhile struck in the first inning, as Terrell Thompson scored off a groundout by third baseman J.J. Loker. After that, the game settled into a pitcher's duel between Draft's Seth Berry and Elkton's Brandon Withers. Through four innings, the game remained at 1-0, with both sides struggling to get on the board. Then Seth Berry came out for the fifth inning and the wheels came off.
After the first two Elkton batters singled to get on base, Thompson walked to load the bases. A single by Elkton second baseman Shannon Cross drove in two runs and then, after a walk to J.J. Loker, right fielder Joe Burris brought home one more run with a single. Before the end of the inning, the Blue Sox added three more runs to make it 7-0 on the night.
Withers picks up the win on the night, giving up just four hits while throwing a complete game. He walked three and struck out three. Seth Berry takes the loss. In just over four innings of work, Berry gave up seven runs on seven hits.
Despite the loss, Draft still leads the semi-final series two games to one. The series moves
back to Elkton for game four tonight, with the first pitch set for 7:30 p.m.
Game two on Monday night on the road wasn’t much different. Despite going down 1-0 in the first inning, the D’backs pounded Elkton for five in the third en route to a 9-3 victory.
The win gives Stuarts Draft a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-five series. Starting pitcher Ryan Cooper gave up an RBI single to J.J. Loker in the first, but he was stellar from there on out as his team cruised.
In the top of the third, Draft got five runs off four hits to get things rolling, with two coming off a homerun from Wes Demitt and another on a solo shot from Brandon Clark off Blue Sox starter Mark Arrington.
With the 5-1 lead, Cooper found the zone on the mound, pitching five scoreless innings to follow. His lead was cushioned by a four-run seventh, scoring an en error, a fielder’s choice and a Lam two-RBI double to go up 9-1.
The hosts got to Cooper again in the bottom of the seventh for two more runs, and he exited the game allowing three runs off six hits, as his team led 9-3 after seven, and that is as close as the hosts would get.
Draft had nine hits on the night, and Lam went 3-for-5 to lead the way.
Elkton had five errors and six hits. No Blue Sox player had multiple hits. Arrington finished his night on the mound allowing nine runs in 6.2 innings, while walking five.
Draft can advance to the championship series with a win on Wednesday at home in game three.
League-leading hitter Ryan Cooper followed with a fly out to right field for the second out, but Dimitt then smashed a 1-2 fastball over the tall fence in right to give the Diamondbacks a 6-0 lead.
Stuarts Draft added a run in the bottom of the sixth when Donovan Huffer walked and scored on an error off a hard-hit ball by Jay Thompson.
Fitzgerald allowed his fifth walk of the game to lead-off pinch hitter Kevin Feehan in the top of the seventh and he paid the price for the free pass. Feehan was sacrificed to second by Logan Phelps and scored on a fielder's choice by Terrell Thompson.
That chased Fitzgerald, who got the win. Tyler Bridge relieved and struck out Josh Lasam and J.J. Loker to end the seventh-inning threat.
Bridge then shut down the Blue Sox in the eighth while his teammates piled on the runs in the bottom of the frame. Coale and Shifflett led off the inning with a pair of singles and Thompson drilled a one out, two-run double to push the lead to 9-1. Cooper followed with an RBI single to right center and Brandon Clark added a run-scoring single as Stuarts Draft pushed the advantage to 10 against Blue Sox reliever Tyler Marshall.
Tyler Wilcher pitched the ninth as Stuarts Draft took its third straight playoff win.
Dimitt was the big stick for the Diamondbacks. He was 3 for 4 at the plate with five RBI. The homer was his 10th of the season. Coale also had three hits to raise his average to .393.
Thompson, Clark, Cooper and Shifflett had two hits each. Thompson drove in four runs in the game to bring his season total to 25. The Diamondbacks had 14 hits and have clubbed a total of 45 hits and scored 37 runs in the three playoff games.
Fitzgerald, Bridge and Wilcher combined on a four hitter for Game 1 of the semifinal round. The team ERA for the playoffs is just 1.67.
Stuarts Draft will travel to Elkton Monday for Game 2 of the best-of-five series and will return to the Diamond Club on Wednesday for Game 3.
The Diamondbacks jumped on Bruins starter Tyler Conley for five runs in the first inning to set the tone. Ryan Cooper had an RBI single, Erkel was walked to bring home a run and two more scored on a Ryan Coale single. That put Norman in good position. The Waynesboro High senior breezed through the Broadway lineup for the first six innings, allowing just one hit. He was effectively wild, hitting one Bruin batter while walking three.
The Diamondbacks (25-5) padded their lead with back-to-back home runs in the third inning as Trevor Lam and Erkel both drilled solo shots over the left field wall. Erkel also played a part in the Diamondbacks' three-run fourth inning. With one out, Cooper reached on an error and scored on Brandon Clark's double. Erkel followed Lam's ground out with a single and Coale brought both runners home with a two-run single to make it 10-0 Stuarts Draft.
Clark's RBI single in the top of the fifth made it 11-0 and Norman continued to cruise, striking out two batters in the bottom of the frame and holding on to the shutout. He added two more strikeouts in the sixth.
Consecutive doubles by Lucas and Thompson brought in three more runs in the top of the eighth to make it 14-0 as Stuarts Draft continued to pound Broadway pitching.
The Bruins finally got on the board without the benefit of a hit when Erkel hit a batter and walked three others in the bottom of the frame. But he got out of the jam by getting Dalton Morris - who had the only Broadway hit - with a strikeout.
Shifflett - in his first appearance of the season - mopped up in relief. He coaxed a double play off the bat of Forrest Miller to end the game.
Erkel and Thompson led the Diamondbacks with three hits each, while Coale, Lucas, Wes Dimitt and Clark had two apiece. Coale drove in four runs with his two singles Lam clubbed his fifth homer of the year and for Erkel, it was his second.
Stuarts Draft will host the winner of the Bridgewater-Elkton playoff on Saturday night.
The win featured some timely hitting by the league’s offensive leader, Ryan Cooper, who smacked a home run. Mitchell Shifflett and Ryan Coale added triples, while Corbin Lucas and T.J. Frazier each had doubles. Pitching in relief, Frazier shut down the Bruins with no-hit ball for three innings and Coale – in his first pitching appearance – tossed the final frame and struck out the side.
Broadway jumped on Diamondbacks pitcher Ryan Windon early in the game, scoring three runs in the top of the first. Windon gave up a couple of singles but walked three Bruins to put himself in the early jam as Broadway scored three runs in the frame. But Windon (2-1), in his fifth start of the season, settled down after the eventful opening frame. He did give up four more hits over the next four innings, but kept the Bruins off the scoreboard.
Bruin pitcher Brad Ritchie shut down the hosts in the first inning, but Stuarts Draft started to chip away in the second, scoring an unearned run against the Broadway right-hander. After Wes Dimitt smacked a one-out single, Trevor Lam reached when Bruin shortstop Tanner Skidmore booted a sharp grounder. With runners at the corners, Donovan Huffer hit into a fielder's choice to score Dimitt.
Stuarts Draft got to Ritchie for three runs in the bottom of the third. Shifflett led off with a standup triple and then scored on a wild pitch, while Ryan Cooper and Wes Dimitt each drove in runs with sacrifice flies as the Diamondbacks took a 4-3 advantage.
The hosts batted around and scored six more runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a commanding 10-3 lead. Coale had an RBI triple and Lucas added a run-scoring double to lead the assault. Ritchie gave up three hits, walked one, hit two batters and uncorked a wild pitch before being lifted for reliever Max Hrasky. Hrasky struck out Dimitt but a two-run error brought home both Cooper and Clark who were targets of two Ritchie fastballs. He got out of the inning when Huffer lifted a long fly to center for the third out.
Windon got out of a jam in the top of the fifth with the help of Huffer, the D’backs shortstop. Huffer ran down a blooper and fired across his body to second base to double up David Kiser, who had walked. Tyler Michael then grounded to second, but the ball hit Kyle Evick in the base path for out No. 3.
Windon gave way to Frazier in the top of the sixth and the right-hander was perfect in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to hold the lead.
Cooper drilled a home run to left field to open the bottom of the sixth to make it 11-3, and Frazier knocked a run with a double in the eighth to cap the scoring for Stuarts Draft. Lucas finished with three hits on the night and knocked in a run, while Shifflett had two hits, including his triple. Both scored two runs. Windon picked up his second win of the season.
Game 2 will be a Broadway tonight in the best-of-three series.
After a back-and-forth affair, the Diamondbacks held on to a 14-11 win to grab the trophy.
The Diamondbacks (23-5) had their problems with the pesky Blue Sox (18-10) as Elkton got to Stuarts Draft starter Chris Henkel early in the contest. Henkel had trouble finding the plate in the first inning giving the Blue Sox a couple of free passes - including a bases loaded walk to Joe Burris. Conner Lilly added an RBI single and JJ Loker scored on a double play as Elkton took a 3-0 lead.
The Diamondbacks got one back in the bottom of the frame when Mitchell Shifflett scored on a delayed steal.
Stuarts Draft cut it to 3-2 in the bottom of the second on a home run by Brandon Clark. That's when the Diamondbacks opened the floodgates. The hosts batted around and scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth. Corbin Lucas drove in a run with a scorching single to left that chased Blue Sox starter Tyler Marshall.
Reliever Chris Madison got two quick outs but shortstop Ryan Coale and first baseman Ryan Cooper each delivered two-run singles to center field as the Diamondbacks grabbed a 7-3 lead.
But Elkton still had some fight left. The Blue Sox sent eight batters to the plate and tied things up with a four-run inning. The big hits came from Logan Furloines (double) and Coach Dave Loker who drilled an RBI single to tie the game.
Stuarts Draft took over the see-saw affair with another three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Tyler Wilcher had a run-scoring single and two more runs came off a wild pitch and a Blue Sox error.
Elkton made it a one-run game with two more plated in the sixth. Burris' two-run double was the difference in the frame. Trevor Lam drilled an RBI single to center as Stuarts Draft took an 11-9 lead in the bottom of the sixth and Wilcher pitched a three-up-three-down inning for the Diamondbacks in the top of the seventh.
Stuarts Draft added a couple more runs in the bottom of the frame on a sacrifice fly by Jay Thompson and a solo home run off the bat of Cooper to lead 13-9 and cruised the rest of the way.
Thompson picked up the win in relief - his first of the season. He gave up five hits and three runs in 1.2 innings and he struck out two. Wilcher got the save with three innings of three-hit ball.
Cooper finished the night with a 3 for 4 effort with four RBI. He now leads the league in average with a .445 mark, has five homers and 34 RBI. Clark, Lam and Coale each had two hits for the Diamondbacks.
Shannon Cross led the Blue Sox with three hits while JJ Loker, Burris and Furloines had two hits apiece. Furloines finished with five runs batted in. Cross (1-3) took the loss.
The win gives the Diamondbacks the regular season championship and the home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They will host New Market (5-22) on Tuesday.
The teams traded runs in the first inning, with the score tied 1-1 heading into the second. The same thing happened in the third inning, with the Bucks scoring one more run off Diamondbacks starter Jeremy Fitzgerald. Draft responded with an RBI single from Ryan Cooper in the bottom of the inning to keep things tied at 2-2. But Clover Hill got to Fitzgerald in the fifth inning, driving in four more runs, as three of the first four batters for the Bucks reached base. A Shane Banks RBI single brought home one run and then Jason Beale hit a pitch out of the park, driving in three more to make it 6-2 at that point.
Clover Hill added two more runs, scoring in both the seventh and eighth innings to make it 8-2
before Draft staged a comeback. Wes Dimitt stepped up and drove in three runs with a home run
in the bottom of the eighth to bring the Diamondbacks within striking distance, but that was as
close as the team would get. Corey Armentrout came in to pitch the ninth inning for Clover Hill
and sent the Diamondbacks down in order to close things out.
Seth Berry controlled the game during his seven innings for the Diamondbacks, en route to his fifth win of the year. In 2014, Berry is 5-0. Friday night, he gave up three runs on five hits, while striking out three.
Montezuma struck first, after Austin Sanchez scored on a sacrifice fly in the third inning. Draft answered back at their very next opportunity, with Ryan Cooper picking up and RBI in the fourth inning to make it 1-1. That didn’t last long however, as Montezuma picked up two more runs in the bottom of the fourth. It would be the last time a Braves player crossed home plate all night long, as Berry took control.
Over the next two innings, the Diamondbacks added two more runs to take the 4-3 lead. The team added some insurance in the ninth inning, as Montezuma reliever Sam Imeson loaded the bases before bringing Elliot Erkel home on a walk.
After seven innings, Berry turned things over to reliever Tyler Bridge, who pitched a shutout eighth inning to bridge the gap to Ryan Cooper. In the bottom of the ninth, Cooper set them down one, two, three to end the game and pick up his third save of the year.
With the win, Draft improves to 22-4, still in sole possession of first place. They come home
Saturday to take on the second place Clover Hill Bucks. The first pitch is set for 7:30 p.m.
at the Diamond Club.
Elkton exploded out of the gate, putting up four runs in the first inning. The first four batters for the Blue Sox reached base. Terrell Thompson was hit by Diamondbacks starter Ryan Cooper, then an error by Diamondbacks center fielder Mitchell Shifflett put Shannon Cross on as well. Elkton first baseman J.J. Loker then hit a single, bringing Thompson home.
After scoring four in the first inning, Elkton brought in two more runs in the third, making it 6-0. Draft struck back quickly, as a single by Corbin Lucas helped Ryan Cooper score. In the fifth, the Diamondbacks made it 6-3, off back-to-back RBI singles by Jay Thompson and Cooper. An error by Draft catcher Trevor Lam on a passed ball helped Elkton put another run on the board, making it 7-3 after six innings. Errors were Draft’s main problem on the night, as they committed eight.
The bats came alive for Draft in the seventh inning however, as they scored five runs to go up 8-7 at that point. A Jay Thompson RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Cooper got things started, then Brandon Clark hit a three-run shot out of the park. It wasn't enough to get the win, as Elkton added three more runs off Diamondbacks reliever Tyler Bridge, to go up 10-8.
Draft had one final chance in the ninth inning, as Corbin Lucas came to the plate with two on and two out, but he popped out to center field to end the game.
The Diamondbacks are on the road again this Friday, as they take on Montezuma.
STUARTS DRAFT - As the sky turned pink and the air cooled late in the evening, Sean Dix admired the ongoing Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks game from the flatbed of his red Dodge Ram pickup. He's been watching Rockingham County Baseball League games from this spot since 2007, when his family moved from Amherst to their Stuarts Draft home, which sits just a few feet away from the the 300-foot wall of the Diamond Club stadium's left field.
Over the last two seasons, he's had a front row seat for the team's back-to-back championships, a first for the club after debuting in 2004.
On Tuesday, he was given a show as former Atlanta Braves prospect Jeremy Fitzgerald striking out 17 as the Diamondbacks posted an 11-0 win in seven innings over an undermanned Broadway Bruins squad, sealing up their league-leading 20th win of the season.
"This has been a big part of our family in the summer," said Dix, who has helped landscape the team's field over that time, too. "There's nothing I would rather do."
His daughter, Mikayla, 12, has struck a bond with many of the Diamondbacks players, first getting to know the team when she was 7. Over the years, Dix said, she's collected three 5-gallon buckets of home run balls in the outfield, has been able to throw the first pitch of a game and was even given her own jersey by the team, a sign, he said, of their appreciation.
It's not surprising, then, why she's developed a crush on the game, hoping one day to play college softball. "They make you feel like you're one of them," Mikayla said of her relationship with the players.
This year marks 10 years of RCBL action for Stuarts Draft, which was purchased by the team's manager, Tinker Kiser, in 2004, when the former Fishersville Rangers disbanded. In that time, aided by community funding, the team has built a new press box and concession stand, has added safety netting and extension poles and raised enough money to construct stadium seating behind the backstop. Their next goal is to raise $10,000 for an updated scoreboard.
Baseball in Stuarts Draft certainly has a following, averaging over 200 fans who line the baselines and backstops at home games behind the Stuarts Draft Volunteer Fire Company. Players come from all levels, some as young as high school age and others with high-level college experience, and even some who had a cup of coffee on the minor- or major-league plateau.
Buffalo Gap graduate Tyler Wilcher and Fort Defiance alumnus Aaron Eppard are two players who have played for the team this season. Seth Berry, an infielder from Fishersville, has been with the team since it's first game in 2004.
Some players are in their 30s, and on a rare occasion, you might even see a coach or two in the outfield — like on Tuesday, when Broadway's head coach, Charlie Shepard, had to fill in at right field for the night.
The Diamondbacks' win over the Bruins was a first for a lot of fans, who were in attendance for Big O Tree & Lawn Service Company appreciation night. That included Buck Harris, who found a spot behind the backstop. A fan of the University of Virginia's baseball team, Harris traditionally only watched his grandson play baseball, but the Diamondbacks game was free, and he wasn't going to pass up a night at the ballpark. "I like to watch the pitchers," he said, "They're fascinating sometimes, with how fast they throw and the accuracy they need."
There was Sheryl Smith from Fishersville, cozy in her red stadium seat, who commented on why she loved baseball. "This is America," she said.
A mob of families and fans came early to get a taste of the food provided for the night,
including barbeque, cole slaw and chips.
"It filled the spot," said Ken Hawkins, a Fairfield resident here with his wife, Mary Jane. "There's a good amount of people here, the food is amazing and baseball is a package deal."
Jeff Templeton, a former coach for the Diamondbacks, found himself watching just beyond the netting behind home plate, while first-time fan Larry Weaver positioned himself on a lawn chair just beyond the right-field wall.
Nights at the ball park were what Kiser envisioned when he bought the club from Fishersville
10 years ago, and the community has responded.
And if there's not enough incentive for Dix to keep coming back to games at the field, there's his ongoing bet with Diamondbacks catcher Wes Dimmit.
"I told him, 'I bet you can't hit my truck,' " Dix said. "He's come close a few times."
Draft took control early and never let up, scoring five runs in the first inning. After that, the bats went cold, until re-igniting in the bottom of the 5th.
Mitchell Shiflett drew a walk, bringing home one run to make it 6-0 and then the floodgates opened. An error by the Bruins infield put Jay Thompson on first and allowed two runs to score, making it 8-0. Ryan Cooper then made it 9-0 with an RBI single to left field, good enough for his 24th RBI of the season. Wes Dimitt, who had driven in a run in the first inning, hit a double on the very next play to add two more for the 11-0 final. Fitzgerald only surrendered one walk and three hits on the night, en route to the win. Dimitt led the offense, going 2 for 4 with 3 RBIs on the night. Jay Thompson also went 2 for 4. With the win, Draft improves to 21-2 on the season, in clear possession of first place. The Diamondbacks are three games ahead of second place Clover Hill, who stand at 18-4. The Bucks play the Bruins on Friday, before hosting the Diamondbacks Saturday night.
Augusta County originally wanted to turn the field into a retention pond. The area where the Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks currently play had been used as a sandlot field for years. The VFW held Independence Day celebrations there, the Ruritan Club also used it for events. But every time it rained, the area completely flooded and so since the county owned the property, officials at the time just wanted to give up and use it to handle stormwater runoff. That's when, in 1994, the late Orvin Kiser Sr. stepped in and formed the Diamond Club.
"He fought for it, he said no, that's been the community field for decades," said current Diamond Club President Bill Heishman. "He got the county to agree to a lease, where they give us control of the field and in exchange, we maintain and operate it. Orvin Sr. got it all started, it was his vision to save that field and turn it into what it is today."
So first, the group fixed the flooding problem by hauling in truckloads of dirt. They built the field up by 5 feet and shaped the area around it. Now when it rains, the water drains out. And so Little League teams played on the field, as well as squads from Ridgeview Christian and Grace Christian School. Then in 2004, another team became a permanent addition. Orvin's son Tinker Kiser had learned that the Fishersville Rangers, which played in the Rockingham County League, were up for sale. Fishersville had fielded a team in the league from 1996 to 2004, winning the championship in 2001. And so Kiser purchased the team from Lynn Wease and moved it to Draft, renaming it the Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks.
"I'd spent a lot of time on that Diamond Club field," Tinker Kiser said. "I figured we'd just move it back to that field."
The Rockingham County League is one of the oldest baseball operations in America, second only to Major League Baseball. In the neighboring Valley League, where the Waynesboro Generals and Staunton Braves operate, players have to be an eligible college student, due to the funding provided by MLB. In the Rockingham County League, it's open for anyone.
"We have some high school seniors, we have several college players and we have a number of guys who just play for the love of the game," Heishman said.
The problem is, it takes a lot to run any type of professional sports team. The field has to be kept up, someone has to run the concession stands, take tickets, play music and find players who agree to join. For the last 10 years, members of the Stuarts Draft Diamond Club have done exactly that, so that fans can watch the Diamondbacks play. But the number of volunteers have declined in recent years, at the same time that more and more fans come to the games. It's caused some problems with the operation.
"The final game last year in the playoffs, we had close to 1,000 people here," Tinker Kiser said. "We've got open borders at the field, so they come in from everywhere. We didn't have enough people to man the entrances and so not everyone paid to get in."
The same thing goes for the concession stand, where it's usually just two or three people trying to deliver food for hundreds of people.
"We just don't have enough people right now," Heishman said. "And it's sad, because we're afraid what will happen when we pass on, if there's nobody here to step up and keep things going. So we're asking members of the community to come out and help. Even if it's just one game, just sign up for one game with your church group or Boy Scout Troop. They could help us with concessions, take tickets at the gate, we've got plenty of things they can do."
Diamondbacks win in blowout
Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 10:00 pm
There was never a point where Stuarts Draft wasn't in control Tuesday night. Coming off just their second loss of the season Sunday, the Diamondbacks got back to their winning ways against Montezuma, beating the Braves 10-2.
Draft started early, targeting Montezuma pitcher Chandis Goff in the first inning. After the first two batters reached base, Ryan Cooper delivered a double to bring in the game's first two runs. Draft added a third run later on in the inning, as right fielder Brandon Clark brought in Cooper with a single.
Cooper doubled again in the second inning, bringing home Jay Thompson with the game's fourth run. After that, the Diamondbacks were in control. The Braves finally got on the scoreboard in the last two innings, thanks to a Kyle Armstrong home run in the eighth and a sacrifice fly by Trajan Brown in the ninth.
Cooper pitched seven innings of shutout ball on the night, giving up just four hits and striking out six. His counterpart, Goff, didn't fare as well, going just shy of eight innings. He gave up seven runs on 11 hits, while striking out two. Donovan Huffer pitched the final two innings for Draft, giving up two runs on two hits.
All but one member of the Diamondbacks lineup collected hits on the night. Third baseman Jay Thompson led things for the club, going 4 for 5 with 2 RBI on the night. He finished things off with a solo home run in the ninth inning. Draft left fielder Elliot Erkel also got on the scoreboard, going 2 for 4 with a solo home run in the sixth inning.
With the win, Draft improves to 17-2 on the season. Their road trip continues tomorrow with a visit to Elkton. Then on Sunday, the Diamondbacks return home to celebrate their 10th anniversary with an "Alumni Night," welcoming back team members from years past. The first pitch is set for 6:30 pm.
Draft got things started in the second inning, when catcher Ryan Coale came home on a wild pitch. After center fielder Jeremy Fitzgerald walked, Draft coach Tinker Kiser called for a double steal. Fitzgerald ended up at second base, while Paul Diggs scored from third. In the third inning, the first four Diamondbacks players picked up hits. After Corbin Lucas and Trevor Lam both got on base, first baseman Ryan Cooper brought them home with a double. Cooper later scored as Coale grounded into a fielder's choice. Draft added one more run off a fielding error by Broadway in the fourth, but things got completely out of reach for the Bruins in the sixth inning. By the end of the inning, their pitching staff had given up five more runs. Broadway starter Tyler Conley was pulled after 5 2/3 innings, giving up 10 runs off nine hits. His ERA climbed to 14.68 after this, his fourth start on the season. His replacement Max Hrasky didn't fare any better, giving up one run on two hits in the final 1 1/3 innings. Ryan Coale led the way for Draft, going 2 for 4 on the night with 3 RBIs. His teammate Brandon Clark also went 2 for 4, while driving in one run. Diamondbacks starter Seth Berry worked six innings and gave up four hits for his fourth win on the year, as his ERA dropped to 1.71. Aaron Eppard came in to work the ninth, giving up one hit before closing things out.
The win makes 16 in a row for the Diamondbacks, who last lost on May 23. The team comes home Sunday night to face the Luray Cavemen, with a first pitch set for 7:30 p.m. Broadway meanwhile drops to 2-12 on the season. They'll go on the road Sunday to face the New Market Shockers.
Blake Roach - Bat Boy for New Market Game
STUARTS DRAFT - Trevor Lam and Wes Dimitt homered and the Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks overcame a 5-0 deficit to knock off New Market 8-5 in Rockingham County Baseball League action at the Diamond Club Monday night.
It was Stuarts Draft's 15th straight win.
The Shockers' Nolan Potts didn't look like a pitcher with an earned run average of 12.55 Monday night. The New Market hurler shut down the hot bats of Stuarts Draft (15-1) for five innings and helped his cause with an RBI double in the first inning.
Potts, who had given up 18 runs in his last four outings, found some early magic Monday night, tossing a two-hit shutout for five innings before tiring in the sixth.
The Shockers (1-12) right hander didn't give up a hit until the bottom of the fifth when Trevor Lam smacked a two-out single and Josh Wenger doubled. But Potts struck out Tyler Bridge to end the threat.
Potts doubled in a run in the first inning and a Josh Veney solo home run in the second staked New Market to a 2-0 lead.
The visitors doubled that when Diamondback starter Treavor Norman got into trouble in the top of the fifth. With two outs, he issued back-to-back walks and was lifted in favor of Chris Henkel.
Henkel loaded the bases with another walk and then gave a free pass to Kevin Rush to score another run. Zach Stiles made it 4-0 on an error.
A solo shot by Korey Foltz gave Potts a 5-0 cushion with a shot to right-center in the top of the sixth. But Potts, who had not gone four innings in a game this season, tired in the bottom of the frame and that was the opening the Diamondbacks needed.
With some help from the bright lights, Stuarts Draft got one-out fly ball singles by Corbin Lucas and Jay Thompson to put runners on the corners. Ryan Cooper singled to drive in Lucas and both base runners moved up on a wild pitch.
Potts got Dimitt to ground out for the second out, but Brandon Clark drove in two runs with a single to push his league-leading total to 20 RBI. Lam then followed with a two-run homer to deep center to knot the game at 5-5.
With Zach Stiles on in relief of Potts, Stuarts Draft touched the righty for three runs in the bottom of the seventh. Dimitt did the damage with a three-run homer, his sixth of the season. That blast gave the Diamondbacks their first lead at 8-5.
Ryan Cooper pitched the final two innings to pick up the save.
After Stuarts Draft (14-1) tied the game in the fifth on Trevor Lam's two-out RBI single, Bridge came on in relief of Diamondbacks starter Ryan Windon. The only base runners he allowed were courtesy of a couple of Stuarts Draft errors.
Luray's Jeff Conley (1-2) then gave up consecutive one-out singles to Ryan Coale and Corbin Lucas before Jay Thompson's RBI single gave the visitors a one-run lead, 4-3. That double proved to be the game winner.
Bridge pitched a perfect seventh and eighth innings before giving way to Cooper. Cooper coaxed a couple of easy ground-outs before getting Hunter Sandridge to strikeout to end the game. For Cooper (8-0), it was his first save of the season.
Luray (7-6) got on board with in the bottom of the first when Braden Cook scored on a balk. Stuarts Draft scored a pair of runs in the top of the fourth to take a 2-1 lead off Conley.
Thompson and Cooper opened the frame with back-to-back singles and Wes Dimitt followed with a fly-out to center. Thompson moved to third after the catch and raced home on an errant throw. Cooper moved to second on the play and scored on Brandon Clark's single in the hole at first.
The Cavemen answered on a two-run homer by Conley in the bottom of the fifth that gave the hosts a 3-2 advantage.But the RBI hits by Lam and Thompson put the pressure back on Luray and Bridge and Cooper shut down the Cavemen over the final four innings.
Thompson finished with three hits in four plate appearances, drove in the game-winning RBI and scored two runs. He leads the RCBL with a .488 batting average and has gone hitless in a game just twice. Cooper and Clark both went 2-for-4 for Stuarts Draft, who will finish Friday's rainout on Monday night when they host New Market. Clark leads the league with 18 RBI.
Conley was the bright spot in the Luray lineup with three hits and two RBI.
Cooper pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing six hits and a walk while striking out seven.
Draft was carried at the plate by Wes Demitt, who drilled two home runs. He knocked a two-run shot in the third and a three-run homer later on to blow the game open.
Demitt 2-for-5 with two home runs and five RBIs on the night. Corbin Lucas went 2-for-4 with two runs for Draft, who had six players record two hits.
Aaron Eppard replaced Cooper on the mound and pitched the final two innings while not allowing a hit.
Draft had 15 hits on the night.
With the win, Draft’s winning streak is now at 13. The Diamondbacks are back in action tonight at home against New Market at 7:30 p.m.
Start of 2nd Game against Montezuma
Team Meeting Prior to Game, Xplosion 8U Team after Intro and cheering on D'backs, Brandon Clark's grand Slam
Xplosion 8U team. Players are from Stuarts Draft, Waynesboro, Fishersville, and Crimora.
The Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, and that was all they needed in a 19-4 thrashing of New Market.
In the first, Jay Thompson and Ryan Cooper singled with two outs. Then Wes Demitt hit an RBI double, as did Brandon Clark, and Josh Wenger had an RBI single to start the route.
On the mound, Wenger pitched five innings, allowing four hits and no runs while striking out three.
At the plate, Trevor Lamb had a 3-run home run for Draft. Thompson was 3-for-4 with three runs, and Cooper was 5-for-6 with four runs and two RBI, while Clark was 4-for-5 with two runs and two RBI.
Draft is now 10-1 and will next play at home tonight at Montezuma.
Corrin Corbin throws out first pitch at Montezuma Game
Cooper's home run leads Draft to win
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
The News Virginian
Posted: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 10:20 pm
The Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks keep possession of first place in the Rockingham County League, after a 4-2 win against Montezuma Tuesday night. Draft won the game in playoff style fashion, thanks to a two-run walk-off home run from Ryan Cooper.
Wes Demitt started things off for the Diamondbacks, hitting a solo home run in the second inning to put his team up 1-0.
Montezuma responded with two runs in the top of the seventh off Diamondbacks reliever T.J. Frazier to take a 2-1 lead, putting Draft in a tough spot heading into the bottom of ninth.
Trevor Lam lead off the ninth with a double, and Jay Thompson doubled to bring Lam home to tie it. Still with no outs, Montezuma brought in Justin Folks to pitch and try to force extra innings. With Thompson on board, Cooper crushed a long ball for the dramatic win.
Waynesboro High graduate Treavor Norman started for Draft, pitching four innings and giving up four hits and no runs. He also struck out five. Aaron Hooven started for Montezuma, going eight innings and giving up three runs on 10 hits. Folks took the loss and Diamondbacks reliever Tyler Bridge picked up the win.
All but two players on the Diamondbacks picked up hits on the night. Cooper meanwhile was 2 for 5 at the plate, with that game-winning home run. Lam was 3-for-5 on the night.
Draft returns to action Friday, going on the road against New Market.
It didn't take long for the Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks to get on the scoreboard Sunday night. In fact, it was harder for the Broadway Bruins to stop them, as Draft recorded a 12-2 win on the road.
The first four batters for Draft all reached base in the top of the first inning. After Ryan Coale was hit by a pitch, both Trevor Lam and Jay Thompson walked. A single by Diamondbacks first baseman Ryan Cooper then put the first point on the board, as he picked up an RBI single. Broadway starting pitcher Tyler Conley then threw a wild pitch that got away from catcher Tyler Michael, allowing Lam to score. Brandon Clark would deliver a sacrifice fly, bringing in Thompson for the third run of the inning.
The Diamondbacks went on to score in each of the next two innings, before exploding for five runs in the top of the fifth. Lam drove in the first run with a triple, followed soon after by a single from Wes Dimitt. By the end of the inning, the Diamondbacks had already batted around and driven Conley from the game.
Conley finished after giving up 13 hits and 11 runs over five innings, while walking four. His counterpart on the Diamondbacks, Seth Berry, was on fire, striking out 10 while giving up two runs on three hits in six innings of work.
Josh Wenger came in to pitch the seventh for Draft, which would end up being the last inning thanks to the Rockingham County League's mercy rule. If a team is winning by 10 runs or more after seven innings, the game is called.
Wenger pitched a perfect inning, striking out two and not allowing a hit.
Ryan Cooper led the way for Draft, going 3 for 5 on the night while driving in one run. Corbin Lucas went 3 for 4 with an RBI, while Trevor Lam was 2 for 4, with 2 RBI and Elliot Erkel also went 2 for 4.
With the win, the Diamondbacks improve to 8-1 on the season, good enough for first place in the league. Clover Hill, who at 7-1 is just a half game behind, was off on Sunday. The Diamondbacks return home on Tuesday, to take on the Montezuma Braves. The first pitch is set for 7:30 pm at the Diamond Club.
Diamondbacks pick up win against Clover Hill
Posted: Tuesday, June 3, 2014 10:39 pm
Updated: 1:00 am, Wed Jun 4, 2014.
After the third inning, it was all over. The Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks picked up another win on the young season Tuesday night, beating Clover Hill 8 to 5 at Buck Bowman Park. The Bucks got on the board first, with former Waynesboro General Tyler Bocock reaching first on a fielding error. Bocock and fellow Buck Andrew Weaver would score on a single from Clover Hill third baseman Addison Bowman, who finished the game 2 for 5. That would be the last time Clover Hill had the lead. Draft put one on the scoreboard in the second inning, with a home run from catcher Wes Dimitt. They added three more in the third inning, off singles from right fielder Brandon Clark and Dimitt and with help from an error by the Clover Hill infield. Jay Thompson then helped pad the lead with a double in the fourth inning, bringing home two runs to make the lead 6 -2. Clover Hill answered back with two more runs in the fifth, but after that, their bats went cold. Bocock finished 1 for 5 on the night, while Bowman led the team with 3 RBIs. Clover Hill's starting pitcher was also familiar to Waynesboro fans. Former General Corey Armentrout took the hill for the Bucks, going five innings while giving up six runs. He also struck out six. Bocock replaced Armentrout as a reliever. He went two innings and gave up two hits, while allowing one run. All total, every member of the Diamondbacks collected at least one hit on the night. The win went to Tyler Bridge, who pitched the final 4 and a third innings, giving up 5 hits and one run, while walking three. Draft shortstop Ryan Coale led the way at the plate, going 3 for 4 while Thompson finished 2 for 5 with 4 RBIs. The loss was Clover Hill's first of the year, as they drop to 4-1, in a tie for first place with Draft.
On a calm Tuesday evening in Stuarts Draft, the Diamondbacks cruised to a 5-2 win over the Elkton BlueSox.
Chris Henkel started on the mound for the Diamondbacks, as he went 6 solid innings, only giving up 1 earned run on 5 hits.
In the top of the first inning, BlueSox leadoff batter Logan Fuliones singled, then stole second to start the ball game.
Two batters later, JJ Loker singled Fuliones home. The only other scoring the BlueSox would see all night would be a 2-out rally in the eighth inning, capped off by a 1-run double by Andrew Bradley. Draft’s offense was led by Jay Thompson, Ryan Cooper, and Brandon Clark, who all had two hits for the Diamondbacks.
The Diamondbacks scoring began in the second inning. Clark and Donovan Huffer led off the inning with singles, followed with walks by Trevor Lam and Elliot Erkel, pushing across the team’s first run.
The rest of the Diamondbacks runs came in the fifth inning, started by a solo shot from Lam.
Following the round-tripper, Corbin Lucas singled and Ryan Fitzgerald was hit by a pitch, which put two on with one out. Third baseman Jay Thompson was next up to the plate, and cashed in on the scoring opportunity with a RBI double.
Fitzgerald later scored on a wild pitch followed by a RBI single from Ryan Cooper to cap off the Diamondbacks scoring for the night.
It was a very impressive, all-around showing from the Diamondbacks, improving to 2-1 on the young season.
Seth Berry relieved Henkel in the seventh, while Jay Thompson came in to close the ball game in the ninth.
The Diamondbacks will be back in action Friday night as they take on Broadway at home at 7:30 pm.
Last season for the Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks was a successful one to say the least, as the team won the Rockingham County League title for the second consecutive year. The Diamondbacks finished the regular season with a 23-5 record, while only losing two games in the playoffs on their way to winning the championship. Manager Tinker Kiser (who is entering his 10th season as the Diamondbacks skipper), sees no reason why the ball club can't "three-peat" this year.
I think we have a good shot at doing it,"; Kiser said. "We pretty much have brought
the same team back."
Last season's league MVP runner-up, Wes Dimitt, would seem to agree.
"My expectation for this team is to three-peat, which is very hard to accomplish,"
Dimitt said. "I feel confident we will be a top-3 team again but it all comes down to
pitching in the playoffs. As for myself, my expectation is to have an even better season than
what I had last year, in every aspect of the game."
The team will be led by veterans Dimitt, Ryan Cooper, Jay Thompson, and Corbin Lucas. Kiser
loves his leader in Dimitt saying, "he's a very intelligent catcher. He does a
great job of helping our pitchers out. He's also hit some of the furthest balls I've
seen hit in the league. Hopefully he has the same kind of year he did last season."
Kiser also feels strongly about first baseman Ryan Cooper.
"He just wants to win ball games and just won’t quit, and is one of the biggest competitors
that there is,” Kiser said. "He really helps out at first base, giving our
infielders a big target, and scooping about 90% of the balls thrown in the dirt."
Along with Cooper at first base, Clark Crutchfield is also capable of playing the position.
Seth Berry, Ryan Coale, and Tyler Wilcher will all see time at second base. At shortstop,
Donovan Huffer and Josh Wenger will both see some playing time. Thompson, Trevor Lam, and
Crutchfield will all hold down the third base position. In the outfield, you will see
Ryan Fitzgerald, Corbin Lucas, Brandon Clark, Elliot Erkel, and possibly even first year
player Aaron Eppard. Behind the plate, along with Dimitt, Trevor Lam and Ryan Coale will
also see some action. There will be a plethora of pitchers to get innings this summer for
the Diamondbacks, including Cooper and Chris Henkel. The 2014 squad will welcome newcomers
Eppard, Trevor Norman, and Tyler Wilcher, as each of these players are just finishing up
their high school seasons.
The Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks have been very successful of late, and with that comes attention. Kiser feels that the team’s recent success has drawn interest to the ballpark from the community. "It seems like there is a pretty strong community interest. I'll see people at the grocery store, and just have them tell me how much they love coming to the games," Kiser said. He also added that he loves working with "the local guys" who have always played baseball around the area.
Obviously confidence is high in Stuarts Draft for the Diamondbacks upcoming 2014 campaign.
No matter what, expect the Diamondbacks to be very competitive, and to be right in the thick of
things come playoff time.