Glenvar grads Duncan, Watt shine for Roanoke Rails

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The Roanoke Rails will be back home this week for three doubleheaders at Kiwanis Field in Salem. The local Carolina-Virginia Collegiate League team is making a move in standings after winning four of five games on the road last week.

At the beginning of the summer the Rails were still waiting on the other half of their players to show from college exams and some in the college playoffs, including a bulk of the pitching staff. Since starting 3-8, the Rails have been on a roll, winning 6 out of the next 7 games.

The Rails are scheduled to be home Wednesday to take on the Mooresville Spinners for two games, beginning at 5 pm. This weekend Roanoke will host the Deep River Mud Dogs for two on Saturday, beginning at 1 pm, and on Sunday the Charlotte Crushers are in for a 2 pm doubleheader.

Last week the Rails played a Wednesday game against the Virginia Marlins at Averett University. Second year pitcher Zach Duncan (Gardner-Webb), a Glenvar graduate, would make his first start of the season since suffering a season ending knee injury during the spring. Duncan would allow 5 hits and only 1 earned run to go with his 3 strikeouts to earn the win as the Rails won 15-7.

Infielder Connor Watt (Patrick Henry CC), also from Glenvar, would go 3 for 4 on the day as well as Nelson Stanley (Hampden Sydney) going 3 for 6 with 3 RBIs. Dean Hermanson (Roanoke) went 2 for 7 with an RBI and Noah Cook (VMI) went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.

The Rails would hit the road for two back to back days in North Carolina with the opener being with first year expansion team the Carolina Coyotes. Roanoke swept the Coyotes, 12-4 and 11-1.

The Rails would waste no time getting things going as Ethan Goforth (Carson-Newman) doubled in the first and Tyler Blevins (Hampden Sydney) followed directly after with monster two run home run into the trees in right center field. Starter Michael Mnich (Alderson Broaddus) continues to lead the way on the mound winning his second game of the year, going 6.0 innings with 7 K’s and no earned runs.

In game two, Jimmy Butler (Hampden Sydney) would get the start and hold the home team down throwing 3.2 innings and 3 K’s for the no decision on a short pitch count. At the plate, Goforth stayed hot going 3 for 3 with his fourth double of the day. Blevins knocked a double as well to keep his great day going. Donny Lewis (Convenant), Cameron Wheeler (Randolph Macon), and Hermanson would all double as well. Lewis’ went for 2 RBI’s and Hermanson’s for one.

On Sunday the Rails visited the league leading Kernersville Bulldogs and earned a split, winning the opener 2-1 before dropping the nightcap, 6-0.

The Rails would enter the game with an even 8-8 record, but riding a 5-game winning streak. The Bulldogs came in with a lofty 17-1 league record.

Roanoke came into the Sunday opener focused, as apparent by starter Matthew Henderlite’s (Roanoke) sterling performance on the mound. Henderlite would throw a complete game, allowing only 1 unearned run to go with 2 punch-outs and 1 walk.

The Rails would do just enough offensively, capitalizing on small ball opportunities and timely hitting. Goforth would continue his weekend of dominance going 2 for 4 with the game’s first RBI. Catcher Ben Harron (Randolph Macon) would get the clutch go ahead RBI double in the 6th inning to provide Henderlite the only lead he would need as the Rails knocked off the league leading Bulldogs 2-1 in the opener.

In Game 2, runs were even harder to come by for the crew from Roanoke. Seth Burris (Southern Virginia) took the tough luck loss once again, as the tall right-hander is the most run starved pitcher on the staff only giving up 4 runs over 4 innings with 1 strikeout. At the plate, the hits were few as Lewis would go 2 for 3.