Steamers split doubleheader, lose out on first place
By David Gough
Sunday, June 30, 2019
EDENTON — The Edenton Steamers needed to sweep a home doubleheader against the Martinsville Mustangs Friday night to keep hope for a first-place finish alive to end the first half of the Coastal Plain League season.
They stayed in the race with a 5-2 win in the first game, but fell 14-7 in the second game allowing the Wilson Tobs to clinch a home playoff game in August before Saturday’s final day of the half.
The base on balls put the Steamers (13-12) in a deep hole early in the seven-inning second game that they couldn’t recover from.
Edenton pitching issued 13 walks throughout the game, including nine in the first three innings.
Starting pitcher Alex Theis, who will be joined by second baseman Ian Walters, outfielder Quincy Hamilton, outfielder Alex Alders and pitcher Jack Eisenbarger as Edenton representatives in this year’s all-star game, had trouble finding the strike zone.
After retiring Martinsville (9-16) leadoff man Jack Sigrist on a fly out to right field to begin the game, Theis walked the next four batters to give the Mustangs an early 1-0 advantage.
Another run scored on a Jack Capobianco sacrifice fly to make it 2-0 in the first.
Theis walked Dominic Cox to begin the second inning and Edenton head coach Russ Burroughs decided to pull him from the game. The left-hander finished the day with one inning pitched, five walks, no hits and three earned runs.
“With Alex, he’s either going to be lights out or have trouble with his command,” Burroughs said. “He was lights out the last three starts, but tonight was just a night where he just struggled.”
The struggles continued for Edenton pitching as Holden Drake walked the first batter he faced and eventually walked four in his inning of work. Sigrist hit a two-run single to extend the Mustangs’ lead to 4-0 in the second.
Drake was pulled after walking the first two batters of the third inning. Grant Crosby came in and served up a three-run shot to the first batter he faced in Josh Killeen to make it 7-0.
Killeen’s homer was the first of three for Martinsville in the second game of the doubleheader.
The biggest one came in the fourth when Cox launched a grand slam over the right field wall. Joshua Smith hit a solo home run to make it 13-0 in the fifth.
Edenton’s offense came alive with two outs in the fifth inning as five straight players reached base and eventually scored.
Hamilton hit his league-leading seventh home run of the season to send three runs home. His 29 RBI for the season also leads the league.
Brycen Thomas hit a two-run double with two out in the final inning to cut the deficit to 14-7, but that’s where the score stood after the final out.
“I would like to see us have some more urgency from the offensive side from start to finish, we got the talent there,” Burroughs. “Offensively, I don’t think anyone can compete with us if we just stay locked in and stay focused.”
The first game of the day went much better on the mound for the Steamers.
Friday night began in the bottom of the first inning with a 3-0 lead for Edenton as walks plagued Martinsville to begin the game back on June 9. Play was suspended then due to inclement weather.
CJ Dornak pitched the first inning of the game for the Steamers but is no longer with the team, so Tyler Hopman filled in for the top of the second inning and provided a big lift for what Burroughs called a “depleted bullpen.”
Hopman went 7 2/3 innings almost making it to the final out of the game. He gave up two runs in the ninth, one of them earned, but that’s all he gave up.
He worked quickly throughout the game striking out three batters, walking no one and giving up no extra-base hits. He dispersed eight singles throughout the night.
“He did a really good job keeping the hitters off balance,” Burroughs said. “Seven innings and around 80 pitches, it was a Greg Maddux-esque start.”
There wasn’t a ton of success offensively in game one for the Steamers as they stranded bases loaded twice.
Catcher Colin Adams had a RBI double in the sixth inning and third baseman Justin Drpich hit his first home run of the season in the fourth inning.
Drpich nearly hit the ball over the fence in the at-bat beforehand and the at-bat that followed as well.
“We have all the confidence in the world in him and seeing him hit his first home run as a Steamer was a really good feeling,” Burroughs said.
With the split of the doubleheader, the struggles at the start of the season officially proved costly for Edenton.
The Steamers are 12-5 in their last 17 games as of Friday night, but a 1-7 beginning proved to be too much to overcome.
Edenton will be losing pitchers RD Lutze and Drake, two players on last year’s team as well, when the second half of the season begins, but it will also be bringing in talent that Burroughs is excited about.
University of Michigan pitchers Blake Beers, Walker Cleveland and Isaiah Page will be joining the team soon. The Wolverines were one win away from being crowned College World Series champions this week before falling to Vanderbilt.
“I don’t think any team is better than us right now,” Burroughs said. “I think we’re the most complete team. We just have to put it together on all cylinders every night.”