The 2022 Valley Baseball League (VBL) season came to an end on Wednesday night following the Charlottesville Tom Sox third VBL title in the last five league seasons.
In the VBL championship series, the Tom Sox swept the Woodstock River Bandits in two games.
In game one on Tuesday in Woodstock, the Tom Sox held the River Bandits to just one run in a 7-1 victory. The Tom Sox were led by Carter Cunningham, Trey Yunger, and Kalvin Alexander, whom each had a two RBI performance in the game one win. On the mound, Drew Bryan picked up the victory after allowing just one run on two hits in five innings while striking out six. The Tom Sox relievers combined to pitch four perfect shutout innings.
With their third VBL title just a victory away, the Tom Sox at home took advantage of an early five run lead to beat the River Bandits 6-2 in game two of the best of three series. Christian Martin led the way for the Tom Sox with three RBI’s in the game two win, while Garret Spikes added a solo home run. Christian Howe bested his teammate Bryan on the mound with a game two victory. Howe threw six shutout innings where he gave up five hits and struck out seven in the win.
In the two games of the championship series, the Tom Sox relief pitching allowed two runs in seven innings, but did not allow a single hit, while they did walk six across those seven innings.
After completing the two-game sweep of the River Bandits in the VBL Championship series, the Tom Sox completed a perfect undefeated VBL postseason where the team won six games and did not suffer a loss. The Tom Sox swept each series they were in.
The Tom Sox VBL postseason began with a three day delay for their playoffs to begin after their first round series with the Covington Lumberjacks had their game one be rained out on back to back days. Their series finally began as a game one and game two doubleheader after three days and even was held on a neutral site at Eagle Field at Memorial Park, the home of the Harrisonburg Turks. The Tom Sox took care of the Lumberjacks winning game one 13-2 and game two of the series doubleheader 6-2.
In the second round, the Tom Sox swept division rival the Waynesboro Generals in two games. In the Tom Sox closest game of the playoffs, they edged past the Generals in game one 5-4 and in game two they cruised to a 13-4 victory as the team made another trip to the VBL Championship Series.
And of course in the VBL Championship Series, they swept the River Bandits in two games.
The Tom Sox have only been an organization in the VBL since 2014.
In those eight years, the Tom Sox have appeared in four VBL Championship Series, losing just one in 2018 to the New Market Rebels in two games.
However, since 2017, the Tom Sox organization has created a dynasty. They defeated the Strasburg Express in three games for their first VBL title in 2017. In 2019, the Tom Sox swept the Express in a rematch from 2017, and their third title coming on Wednesday in a two-game sweep of the River Bandits.
That’s four trips to the title game series in the last five VBL seasons.
It’s as if we did not see this coming for the Tom Sox. The Tom won eight of their last 10 regular season games this season. They entered the playoffs as the hottest team in the VBL. Including the playoffs, the Tom Sox won 14 of their last 16 games to close out the season. The week prior to the playoffs beginning, they were the third place team in the South Division and ended up winning the whole thing.
The Tom Sox had a great stretch to end their regular season and they carried it into the playoffs.
In the championship series, the River Bandits had one of the VBL’s best rotations and all around pitching staffs. However, the Tom Sox had the the hottest bats going in the league. Tough to slow down what is working.
On top of it all for the Tom Sox, head coach Ramon Garza in his first season with the club as coach, became the first ever to win a VBL Championship as a player (2019 Tom Sox) and also as a head coach (2022 Tom Sox).
For the River Bandits, it was the organizations first trip ever to the VBL Championship Series in 19 years in the league.