2019 Regular Season Recap
The Generals put together their best regular season since the team was created in 1935. They finished with the best record in the league of 31-11. After starting the year 6-5, the Gens won 25 out of their last 31 games. They had three separate winning streaks of at least five games. Those three streaks include the last five games of the regular season that the Gens were able to win. They enter the playoffs hot at the right time.
Offensively, the Gens put up a .285 batting average with just under 100 doubles and 41 long balls. A big contributor in those categories was Wes Clarke (Forest, VA | South Carolina). Wes finished fifth in the league in hitting with a .364 batting average. He led the team in doubles with 14 and home runs with six. Other key players in getting the batting average up to that high number of .285 were Connor Norby (Kernersville, NC | East Carolina) with a .333 batting average with 4 triples and 4 homers, Jack Murphy (Orinda, CA | St. Mary’s) with a .314 batting average with 11 doubles, three home runs, and 25 RBI, and finally, Gunner Peterson (Salem, WI | Illinois St.) with a .321 batting average with three home runs. The team didn’t just sit around and wait for extra base hits either. They were able to steal 65 bases. Jackson Tate (Pike Road, AL | Alabama) stole 12 to lead the team. Kobe Lopez (Orlando, FL | Florida International) stole 11 bases to follow up Tate. Finally, Bryson Worrell (Sims, NC | East Carolina) stole eight to round out the top three. With all these extra base hits and stolen bases, it should come as no surprise that the team averaged right around eight runs per game. The top five run scorers on the team were Kobe Lopez with 37, Wes Clarke with 33, Jackson Tate with 32, Connor Norby with 31, and Jack Murphy and Joey Kinker (North Port, FL | Florida Gulf Coast) tied with 30. The people with the highest amount of runs driven in looks pretty similar to the people that have scored the most runs. Top five RBI men were Jackson Tate with 31, Wes Clarke with 29, Jack Murphy with 25, Kobe Lopez with 23, and Eli Quiceno (Berryville, VA | Gannon University) with 21. Finally, the Gens organization wants to thank our top five guys in games played. These guys brought it every night for the team and never complained once. Kobe Lopez and Joey Kinker with 40 games played, Jackson Tate and Jack Murphy with 38 games played, Wes Clarke with 37, and Ethan Cady (Soddy Daisy, TN | East Tennessee State) with 32.
Those offensive numbers were phenomenal considering the team’s pitching was so dominant. There were some nights where the pitching had to carry the load, and this team could do it with starters or a suffocating bullpen. Our top 5 pitchers for wins include Deven Judy (Belle Vernon, PA | Gannon University), Zach Kirby (Upland, CA | East Tennessee State), Zach Blankenship (Fleming Island, FL | Valdosta St), Luke Short (Los Gatos, CA | St. Mary’s), and Tyler Shuck (Cape Coral, FL | Florida Gulf Coast). The five-man tie for the team lead in wins saw them get three wins. As for the suffocating bullpen, the team picked up a total of nine saves. McLain Harris (Griffin, GA | Young Harris Col) led the team with three, Christian Edwards (Hartselle, AL | Jacksonville State) had two, and a host of players with one apiece. They include Nick Zegna (Newark, DE | George Mason), Christian Dearman (Pembroke Pines, FL | Florida International), Jan Figueroa (Trujillo Alto, PR | Florida International), and Matt Mercer (Chattanooga, TN | East Tennessee State). The team’s ERA was 3.72 and the total amount of runs given up per game sat at just 4.70. The top five players in ERA for the team were Christian Dearman with a 0.45 ERA, McLain Harris with a 0.85 ERA, Luke Short with a 2.18, Jan Figueroa with a 2.82 ERA, and Deven Judy with a 3.21. The staff was able to strike out a little over nine per game to take pressure off the defense. The top five strikeout men were McLain Harris with 31, Zach Kirby with 29, Deven Judy and Daniel Casto (Olive Branch, MS | Memphis) with 27, and Tyler Shuck and Luke Short with 26.
With the playoffs set, let’s look at how the Generals fared against the possible opponents from both divisions.
#2 Seed in the South: Charlottesville Tom Sox
The Gens were 4-2 against their rivals from just down I-64. However, the Generals won their last four decisions against the Tom Sox. The last time the Tom Sox were victorious over the Gens, it took 10 innings on June 21st. The Tom Sox scored an unearned run in the 10th to win by a score of 2-1. That moved the season series to 2-0 in favor of the Tom Sox. However, the Generals rattled off four straight wins to win the season series. That included three consecutive games for the Generals from July 4th to July 8th.
#3 Seed in the South: Covington Lumberjacks
The Gens were 5-1 against the Jacks on the season. The one victory that the Jacks had against the Gens came on June 4th. They also had a very good opportunity to win a back end of a double header vs. the Gens on July 18th, but the Gens mounted a comeback from three runs down in the top of the sixth of a seven inning game with five runs to win the game 5-4.
#4 Seed in the South: Staunton Braves
The rivalry was a bit one-sided in the regular season. The Gens won all six matchups between the two teams. The Braves had a very good chance on June 26th. The bases were empty in the ninth with two outs in the inning and they were leading by three runs at their home ball park. However, the Gens mounted a comeback that was highlighted by a game-tying 3-run homer by Joey Kinker to tie it up. The Gens would eventually win in the 10th.
#1 Seed in the North: Strasburg Express
The Gens were 3-0 against the North division’s top team. This includes the 17-4 victory in Strasburg on the final day of the regular season for the Gens to clinch the best win-loss record in team history. The other two matchups between the teams saw the Gens winning by a margin of four runs each time.
#2 Seed in the North: Woodstock River Bandits
The Gens finished 2-1 against the River Bandits this season. The two wins they had against Woodstock were both high-scoring affairs. The Gens took the first matchup 20-10 in Woodstock. They mounted a five run comeback in the ninth to tie and eventually win the game in the 11th inning in the second matchup. Finally, the River Bandits came up with a victory against the Gens in Woodstock.
#3 Seed in the North: New Market Rebels
The Gens lost the season series 2-1 to the Rebels this season. The Rebels were only one of two teams in the entire Valley League that had a winning record vs the Generals. The Gens took the opening game in New Market on June 6th by a score of 13-5. But The Rebels swept a double header at Kate Collins Field on June 16th. The Rebels took both games by one run. The first game finished at 5-4 and the second finished at 2-1.
#4 Seed in the North: Winchester Royals
The Winchester Royals were the other of the two teams that had winning records vs. the Gens this summer. The first matchup on June 27th saw the Gens pick up their one win over Winchester with a 10-6 score. A go-ahead 3-run homer by Ethan Cady in the bottom of the 5th would prove to be the game-winner. However, the Royals took the next two games of the series. The first was at Waynesboro that they connected on a couple homers to win 9-6. The other was in Winchester when they shut out the Gens 4-0. That marked the only time the Gens were shutout on the season.
Now that the scene is set, it’s time to enjoy some playoff baseball in the Valley League! Game One of the first series against the Staunton Braves is Sunday, July 28th, at Integrity Home Mortgage Park at Kate Collins Field at 7 PM. The Gens are looking for their 7th VBL Championship and first since 2014.