Late surge lifts Surrey over Burlington
SURREY – The Surrey Blue Sox know all about making comebacks. They’ve already had to make a few of them this summer.
Tuesday was no different. Trailing 2-1 in the fifth, Surrey tagged Burlington reliever Jarrett Vendsel for four runs in the bottom of the frame, claiming the lead for good in what led to a 6-4 win. The Blue Sox later notched an 11-3 victory to clinch the series sweep.
Surrey coach Jeremy Feller will take two wins any day. He wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more early-inning production from his team, either.
“Just about every game, we’ve come from behind,” Feller said. “Most we’ve won, some we’ve lost. We just need to jump on people early and find a way to score runners earlier instead of hoping for a walk-off. That’s kind of been our theme.”
Brendan Larson was Surrey’s man for the occasion in Game 1.
Shortly following a Jacob Burckhard RBI single to left – the game tied at 2 with the bases loaded – Larson took Vendsel’s 1-1 offering deep to right.
The three-run advantage was all Surrey starter Bridger Urban needed. He nearly went the distance, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and six walks in 6 1/3 innings, striking out eight. Jesse VerBruggen came on to clinch the save for the Blue Sox (8-6).
With wind gusting for much of the afternoon, Urban understood the importance of staying balanced on the mound.
“When the wind’s coming from side to side, it’s harder to find your balance point as a pitcher, and that’s really what I thrive on,” he said. “If I can’t find my balance point, I find it hard to throw strikes most days. But every now and then you can pull it off, find your spots and beat the wind.”
Burlington nearly took the game’s first lead right away in the first.
With two outs and nobody on base, Cole Grosche slapped a single to right for Burlington to keep the inning alive. Grosche stole second and advanced to third on an Urban error, putting him 90 feet away from a 1-0 Bulldog lead.
He nearly made it, too. Urban’s 2-2 offering to senior Justin Thomas found the backstop, unleashing Grosche in an attempt to steal home. But Surrey catcher Seth Aberle was too quick. His throw back to Urban, who covered home plate, was right on time, keeping the game scoreless in the middle of the first.
Surrey’s John Reiten provided the first extra-base hit of the game with a one-out double in the third. He scored on a Burlington error.
The Blue Sox could have tacked on a few more, too. They left 12 runners on base, three of which were stranded in scoring position prior to Reiten’s run.
“We’ve been leaving a lot of guys on base lately,” Feller said. “We need to find a way to be more productive and score those runs.”
Burlington starter Alex Davy fanned eight Surrey batters, five of which went down looking, in four innings on the hill. He surrendered one run on three hits and three walks, leaving the game in a position to claim the win.
“He’s been doing great,” Burlington coach Andrew Roach said. “But where we’re running into problems – even with Alex – are the walks. Walks will still kill you.
“It seems like every game it’s just one big inning that hurts us. We’ve just gotta find a way to get around that.”
Following Davy’s exit in the fourth, Burlington relievers Vendsel and Grosche allowed five earned runs, combining to give up four hits and two walks over the final two innings.
Burlington fared even worse in the nightcap. Six Surrey runs in the first put the game at an early distance, and the Bulldogs never recovered.
VerBruggen picked up the win for the Blue Sox, striking out 10 Burlington batters in a four-inning effort.
Joe Mellenbruch covers legion baseball and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.