DANVILLE, Va. - The Danville Braves dropped a fifth straight contest, this time 4-2 in the series opener against the Princeton Rays Friday night at Legion Field.
Danville starter Mitch Stallings set a new career high by pitching seven innings. He threw 63 strikes in his 84 pitches, matching his career-high of 11 strikeouts set June 26 at Bluefield.
Danville put 11 runners on base but scored just two and stranded seven. The D-Braves struck out 11 times at the plate as well, and committed three errors, with one costly error in the eighth inning helping Princeton score the winning run in the frame.
The Rays took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning, following up a leadoff groundout with a double and an RBI single to strike first. That was it for Princeton for the next six innings, as Stallings retired 18 consecutive batters. He struck out 11 of those 18, including five straight across the third, fourth and fifth innings.
Danville had a few opportunities to try and earn Stallings the win, beginning with the second inning. Cody Birdsong and Brandon Chapman hit back-to-back singles to put two runners on with one out, but a pair of strikeouts left them stranded. In the fourth inning, Ray Hernandez and Chapman each singled, with a wild pitch advancing Hernandez to third. Charles Reyes struck out at the plate to end the threat.
Princeton finally got on base again in the seventh inning, putting runners on second and third with two outs. Stallings retired Kevin Melendez with a groundout for the final out of his night, exiting with Danville trailing 1-0.
After the D-Braves came up empty in the seventh, the team turned to reliever Kenny Wells in the eighth. Princeton led off the inning with Gionti Turner reaching on a fielding error, though Turner was thrown out attempting to advance to third base. Wells retired the next batter with a groundout.
With two outs on the board, Princeton drew a walk and then an RBI triple paired with a throwing error gave the Rays two runs. The team followed that up with a single and an RBI double to knock in another run and make it 4-0. After a walk, Danville sent in reliever Alex Segal. Despite Princeton loading the bases, Segal escaped the jam without surrendering any more runs.
In the ninth inning, Princeton got a runner to third on a throwing error but couldn't add to its lead. Danville led off the bottom of the frame with a Connor Blair hit by pitch. Hernandez doubled on the next at bat but Blair was thrown out trying to score. Birdsong walked to put two on, and a wild pitch advanced the runners. A Victor De Hoyos strikeout put a second out on the board as Reyes came up to bat. Reyes came up with a two-run single to help Danville avoid the shutout. Garrett Saunders walked to bring put the tying run at first base but that would be it for the D-Braves.
The two teams will clash again on Saturday, with first pitch coming at 6:30 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.