Rails beat CVCL’s top team on walk-off bunt by Watt

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Connor Watt of the Roanoke Rails is nipped on a play at first.
Rails catcher Ethan Goforth makes the tag at home against Kernersville

It’s just past the halfway point of the Carolina-Virginia Collegiate League baseball season and the Roanoke Rails are playing some of their best baseball. The Rails are 16-12 overall, which is the second most league wins and the third best winning percentage overall in the 12 team league.

Last Saturday at Salem’s Kiwanis Field the league leading Kernersville Bulldogs came to Kiwanis Field to avenge a previous loss in North Carolina to the Rails. Game one would have undefeated Bulldog starter Tanner Routh (Guilford Tech) matched up on the mound against Roanoke’s Jimmy Butler. Routh proved why he is one of the best in the league, out-dueling Butler and shutting out the Rails with his fastball and sharp slider. The Bulldogs would take game one 4-0 behind Routh’s double digit strikeout performance.

In the nightcap the Rails’ offense came to life. Roanoke would score two unearned runs on some Bulldog defensive miscues and smart Rails base-running to knot things up at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth. The scheduled seven inning game would move into extra innings, where Noah Cook (VMI) would single up the middle to start the eighth. Dean Hermanson (Roanoke College )then laid down what would look to be a sacrifice bunt, however Hermanson would beat the throw to first for an infield single.

Hot hitting Adam Linkous (Concord) came to the plate with the infield back and coach Jeremy Sink had him move the runners over with a perfect sacrifice bunt. With runners at second and third and only one out Connor Watt (PHCC), a Glenvar grad, pushed a bunt up the first base line past the pitcher, scoring Cook from third for the walk off win. It was the second win in four games against the nationally ranked Bulldogs. Glenvar’s Zach Duncan (Gardner Webb) grabbed the win in relief.

On Sunday in Holly Springs, the Rails swept the Fuquay Varina Twins, 15-5 and 5-2. Ben Harron from William Byrd had three hits in the opener and Watt had a big RBI single in the nightcap.

The CVCL All-Star game is this Saturday at Lenoir Rhyne but participants were not yet announced at press time. Roanoke is at Mooresville for a big division doubleheader today and on Sunday they host the Carolina Coyotes for two at Kiwanis Field, beginning at 2 pm.