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Deltas edged in semifinal; Gloucester wins title

by Stephen Blue

A Major League Hall-of-Famer once said, “Baseball is a game of inches.” The Deltaville Deltas are believers.

Deltas starter Mike Newton scattered 7 hits, and Dave Cunningham was inches from tying the game in the 9th, but Deltaville fell to the York Cannons 1-0 Saturday night in the Southern Virginia Baseball League (SVABL) tournament semifinals.

Billed as a showdown of well-matched opponents, the game lived up to expectations. The right-handed Newton and Cannon southpaw Justin Harrah locked in a pitchers duel, and defense was the name of the game. In fact, through the first 7 innings, the score was still tied at 0-0. Neither team committed a defensive error.

The top of the 8th inning would be Newton’s only dent. Cannon leadoff hitter and VCU standout Justin Wright lined an 0-1 pitch over the right field wall, just over the extended glove of outfielder Tim Grandy, to break the stalemate.

Harrah held the Deltas in the 8th and Newton worked a scoreless 9th, bringing the middle of the Deltas lineup to the plate for the bottom of the 9th. Cleanup hitter Chris King drew a one-out walk, and Brett Crawford moved him to second base with a sacrifice bunt.

Yorktown now faced Deltaville veteran hitter Dave Cunningham. With King on second and two outs, and Harrah’s pitch count exceeding 125 pitches, the Cannons went to the bullpen. ODU reliever Robbie Watkins came to the mound. Cunningham worked the count, and slashed Watkins’ 2-2 offering between shortstop and third base.

“Six inches more to the left, and the ballgame is tied,” Deltas manager Jerry Crittenden said after the game.

However, it wasn’t. The Cannon shortstop dove, stopped the ball from getting to the outfield, which forced King to hold at third base on Cunningham’s infield single. Matt Brown came to the plate and battled Watkins in a 10-pitch showdown. With a full count, Brown fouled off four consecutive pitches before foul tipping Watkins’ 10th pitch into the mitt of the York catcher for the final out.

A baseball bat is less than 3 inches in diameter—Brown was missing the game tying hit by just an inch.

Again, “Baseball is a game of inches.”

Newton shined in the loss, scattering just 7 hits over a complete game 9 innings. He struck out 7 and walked just 2. His record fell to 5-4 with a 3.46 season ERA.

Deltaville managed just 5 hits off of the Cannons. Jimmy Denny led the Deltas with a pair of singles, and Cunningham, Brown, and Ryan Wiggins each singled.

Deltaville finished the season in third place with an overall record of 17-7. The Cannons (18-7) went on to face the Gloucester Astros for the championship on Sunday, falling by a score of 6-3. The Astros (18-5) became the first team in SVABL history to capture three championships (2004, 2006, 2008).

For more information on the Deltas season, including statistics and game photos, visit

posted 08.18.2008

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