Victoria can't dig out of early hole
The simplest way to describe the Victoria Generals' tenth loss in 12 games: nine men in and nine men out.
By the time the Generals batted through their lineup, they trailed 9-0 to Alexandria Monday night. Soon thereafter Generals manager Chris Clemons demanded his team to play better baseball.
They did, but it wasn't enough as the Aces survived a furious ninth-inning comeback to win 9-7.
The winning run was at first base, but Trace Knoblauch looked at a third strike to end the game.
"It's never any consolation when you come out with a loss," Clemons said. "I challenged them in the fourth inning when we were down 9-0. I really got on them for the first time this year and challenged them. The bullpen came out and did a tremendous job. It's not any consolation, but we did play a good second half of this game."
Jake McMurtry, James Ferguson, Dallas Ponder and Alex Klonowski combined to allow one run in six innings of relief.
But the hole was too big.
Down to its final out, Victoria trailed 9-3. Klonowski hit a 2 RBI single to cut the deficit to 9-5. Chad Kruse and Jude Vidrine hit bouncing singles to center field to score two more runs.
Eric Weiss drew a walk to put the winning run on base, a possibility that seemed remote when Clemons issued his challenge.
Alexandria scored four runs in the first inning and another five in the fourth. The early explosion chased Generals starter Covey Morrow from the game. The Yoakum graduate was responsible for eight of those runs, seven of which were earned, in three innings of work.
"I'll take him on the mound every single day," Clemons said of Morrow, noting his pitches were higher than usual Monday. "He hasn't thrown extended innings and he's probably a little tired and there is a little fatigue in there. He works a lot and it might be time for him to back off between starts and rest his arm a bit."
After the fourth inning, where the Generals committed and error, dropped a couple plays that may have resulted in outs and allowed five runs Clemons said was tired of the sloppy play and wanted people to step up to the plate.
One manager wanted his team to start better, the other wanted his bunch to finish better.
"The most important thing is we got the win," said Aces manager Freddy Rodriguez. "It doesn't matter how we got it, we got the win. We struggled there in the last inning, but that's one of those things where it's the game of baseball. It's not over until the last out and they battled. I give Victoria credit for making it close in the last inning."
Tyler Vail was dominant on the mound for the Aces. Once his teammates staked him to a large lead, he took over from there, retiring his first 12 batters on the way to the victory. In all, he allowed three hits and two runs over seven innings.
Clemons gave Vail credit for throwing low strikes all evening. Even when the Aces starter elevated his pitches, he forced the Generals into easy outs.
On a warm evening, his red and yellow jersey was much darker than that of his teammates. The exertion of throwing 109 pitches wasn't too much for Vail - finding somewhere to wipe his hands sweaty hands was another story.
"I get going. I start sweating," said Vail, adding his fastball and change-up were really working for him Monday. "It sucks because at the end of the inning, I was looking for a dry place and somewhere to wipe."
Alexandria 9, Victoria 7
Alexandria 400 500 000 - 9 15 2
Victoria 000 002 014 - 7 7 2
Alexandria: T. Vail, A. Rodriguez (8th), A. Greer 9th) and G. Vail; Victoria: Covey Morrow, Jake McMurtry (4th), James Ferguson (7th), Dallas Ponder (8th), Alex Klonowski (9th) and Blue Hybner. W: T. Vail (3-3); L: Morrow (6-3); S: Greer (1). 2B: (Alexandria) G.Vail 2, J.Sealy 2. Highlights: (Alexandria) G. Vail 2-5, 2 2B, 3 RBIs, R, Sealy 3-5, 2 2B, 2 RBIs (Victoria) Klonowski 2-5, 2 RBIs, R; 1 IP 0 H, 0R, Chad Kruse 2-5, 2 RBIs, Patrick Duncan 1-1, 2R, Jude Vidrine 2-5, 2 RBI.Records; Victoria 26-21; Alexandria 22-25.