By Andrew Cooney
Justin Taylor was a top selection in the draft for this year’s inaugural NVCL season, and he proved why that was the case in the Rough Riders 11-9 victory over the Bunt Cakes last night at Waters Field.
In just his first week back from a shoulder injury, Taylor (Cornell) threw out a runner at the plate from center field, launched his second home run of the season and had the game-tying hit with a two-run single in a six-run seventh inning for the Rough Riders. The win snapped a two-game losing streak and propelled the Rough Riders to sole possession of second place behind the league-leading Night Owls.
“When [Taylor] came back he had four hits in a row to start,” said Rough Riders manager Tom Verbanic. “He is that guy and when he walks out here you see he’s a freak athlete and he just changes everything.”.
Jay Cassady (Christopher Newport) provided a remarkable start on the mound for the Bunt Cakes, striking out seven over five innings and only surrendering one earned run on two hits. The Bunt Cakes appeared to have the game in control after Alex Lemery (Marymount) smacked a two-run double to give the Bunt Cakes a 5-1 lead in the fifth inning.
However, the Rough Riders struck back with six runs in the top of the seventh on RBI base hits from Taylor, Drew Caroline (Christopher Newport), John Heltebran (Louisburg) and Justin Carboni (Pennsylvania).
The Bunt Cakes scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to push the game to extra innings where a three-run homer from Thomas Latham (Holy Cross) proved to be the deciding blow for the Rough Riders. Latham has now driven in seven runs in his last four games.
“One thing you know, especially with these kids, is that you’re never really out of a game so to speak,” said Verbanic. “All of a sudden you’re in a game, you could be down six and be in a game in a heartbeat.”
The Rough Riders (5-3) will take on the Chili Dogs today at Madison High School while the Bunt Cakes (4-4) will face the first-place Night Owls at Waters Field.
In other league action...Jack Hoeymans (undecided) and Connor Baine (George Mason) both had two hits and combined for three RBI to lead the Sliders (4-4) to a 6-1 win over the Hot Wings (3-5). Garrett Newsome (William & Mary) and Michael Schultz (College of Charleston) combined to throw seven innings of five hit ball, giving up one run. Ryan Dooley (VMI) had two hits and an RBI for the Hot Wings… Nicholas Ortega (Elizabethtown College) and Eric Parnell (Mary Washington) combined to strike out five in the Chili Dogs (3-5) 4-1 win over the Gators (3-5). Will Salva (Roanoke) and Trey Haley (Case Western Reserve) led the Chili Dogs offense with two hits apiece. Shane Dux (Hamilton) chipped in two hits for the Gators as Colby Shriner (Christopher Newport) was tacked with the loss… Yareb Martinez (Georgetown) had the game-winning hit in extra innings as the Night Owls (7-1) nipped the Yard Dogs (3-5) 9-8. Ryan McElligott (Marymount) started for the Night Owls and went four innings, giving up two hits. Michael Ludowig (Wake Forest), Caden DeCroo (Indiana University of Pennsylvania), Jonathan Rivard (Virginia Tech) and Dylan Saale (Longwood) all had multiple hits in the loss.
Photo of Thomas Latham by Josh Belanger