Martinsville beats Forest City on Bark in the Park Night

Updated July 22 2017

Martinsville hosted Forest City for the final time of the regular season. The Mustangs fell behind early for the second straight game but were able to rally. Behind a couple of three run innings Martinsville defeated the owls 7-5 for their third straight win.

John Weber made the start for the Mustangs. In his seventh start of the summer Weber struggled with his control early. After a scoreless first inning, Weber issued a leadoff walk before allowing a two-run homer to AJ Wright.

In the bottom of the first Martinsville pushed across a run against Owls starter Tyler Lawson.

Martinsville catcher Kyle Wilkie reached base on an error and Andres Sosa followed with a single. A successful sacrifice bunt by Keaton Weisz moved the runners up and Muta Crusoe flied out to center. Wilkie scored on the sacrifice fly and the Mustangs were on the board.

In the third inning, Josh Smith led off with a single. Later in the inning with Smith at second, Wilkie singled to score Smith and tie the game. Wilkie finished 2-4 with two RBIs.

Sosa followed that up with an RBI double down the line that scored Wilkie. Sosa had three hits to raise his average to .311 on the season. Martinsville added another run in the frame after a balk on Lawson scored Sosa to make it 4-2 Mustangs.

Forest City scored a run in the fourth but Weber ended the inning with a strikeout to strand two runners and preserve the lead for the Mustangs. Weber finished with 5.2 innings and went over 100 pitches for the first time since he was in high school. He allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and struck out five.

Weber talked about being able to settle in after some early control problems.

“I was just trying to sit around the zone and fill up the box as much as I could,” he said. “Later in the game I found the control better and got back on top of the ball.”

Martinsville Head Coach Danny Higginbotham knew what to expect even when Weber didn’t have his best stuff.

“Regardless of his line for the night, he’s always going to come out there and work hard. He’s always going to work well with the catcher behind the plate and I think that goes far,” he said.

Preston Szuch came in for Weber with two outs in the inning. The first batter he faced lined a comebacker off his hand. The ball redirected towards Sosa at third base who threw to first for the out.

In the seventh inning Crusoe led off with a single and Matt Berler followed with a walk. After another successful sacrifice bunt moved the runners up, Crusoe scored on a balk committed by Owls reliever Michael Davis.

With two outs Lee Sponseller singled up the middle and Berler scored to make it 6-3. Wilkie came through with an RBI single after Sponseller stole second and the Mustangs led 7-3.

Forest City scored a couple of runs in the eighth inning against Mustangs reliever Patrick Orlando. However with the tying run at the plate Orlando struck out Tyler Miller to end the inning.

The Mustangs went to Connor Riley in the ninth inning. With the tying run at the plate, the freshman from Long Beach State struck out Carson Jones and Wright to end the game.

Higginbotham spoke about going to Riley instead of Mike Stephens their usual closer.

“We’ve been going to Stephens the whole time but he was out of town and we had to go to someone else. It’s next man up and we’re proud of him,” he said.

RIley who was fired up after the game talked about pitching in a different role.

“We had two runs so a solo shot still keeps us in the game so I’m just trying to get ahead and get quick outs,” he said.

Wilkie talked about working through the ninth with Riley.

“We have good chemistry. His put-away pitch is his slider so that’s what we were trying to do,” he said.

Martinsville improved to 18-25 while Forest City went to 24-14. The Mustangs offense has come to life over the past three games and they got huge hits when they needed them.

“It’s exciting to see them keep grinding,” Higginbotham said. “That ten game losing streak tested them and they got punched in the mouth. It’s good to see them bounce back and get another win. The athleticism is there, the heart is there, and when you put the ball in play you get to show it.”

Martinsville will travel to Asheboro today before wrapping up the week with a home game against Florence on Sunday.

The Coastal Plain League is the nation’s premier summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 22nd season in 2018, the CPL features 16 teams playing in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL has had over 1,450 alumni drafted and 111 of those – including 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander – make their Major League debut; while another notable alum – Russell Wilson – won Super Bowl XLVIII. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at and follow us via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat @CPLBaseball..


Nathan Loprete