By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL -- Two Broadway pitchers tossed a combined no-hitter, keeping Skyline grounded, in taking a 14-1 non-district victory in the baseball season opener for both teams on Tuesday evening at Bing Crosby Stadium.
Broadway batters smacked 12 singles, six being of the infield variety, and one double, in piling on the runs, in the mercy-rule shortened five-inning contest.
The Gobblers' starting hurler, junior left-hander Corey Armentrout, started his season in spectacular fashion, tossing three no-hit innings, with eight strike-outs and five walks, to earn the win. Right-handed junior Cameron Smith preserved the no-hitter with two innings of effective relief work.
Armentrout was sharpest in the second inning, striking out the side on 17 pitches.
"My arm feels good," Armentrout said. "For my first outing, I'm happy. I definitely need to work on getting the ball down and hitting spots better and work a little bit more on command. I relied mostly on my fastball, and tossed in a few change-ups."
Armentrout's battery mate, senior catcher Walker Turner, not only worked behind the dish for Armentrout's gem, but also went 4-for-4 (all singles), with three RBIs, from the right-hand batter's box.
"We were a little conservative today and relied mostly on the fast ball, to make sure [Armentrout] was throwing strikes," Turner said. "I hit mostly fastballs today, and we hit pretty well all-around as a team."
Broadway opened the top of the third with three consecutive infield hits to load the bases for clean-up hitter Nathan Wisman, who hit a solid shot to left field, knocking in two runs.
It turned into a long parade as the Gobblers sent 11 more batters to the plate, garnering eight more runs on five more hits, and four walks, to increase their lead to 11-1.
Ironically, it was another small-ball hit that ended the scoring barrage.
After Broadway's 13th batter in the inning, Wisman, drew a walk to load the bases in his second plate appearance in the frame, still with no outs, center fielder Tyler Conley hit a swinging bunt that hugged fair ground more than halfway down the third-base line.
Hawks third baseman Mike Accettullo charged it, making a clean bare-handed pickup, fired to home plate to force out Josh Ebberly, and catcher Ryan Settle fired the ball to first to get Conley and complete the double play.
Armentrout then grounded out to end the onslaught.
The 30-minute delay between innings took a toll on Armentrout, who issued three walks in the bottom of the frame. But they were sandwiched between two more strikeouts and a popout to preserve his 66-pitch no-hitter.
"I thought Corey [Armentrout] stared a little tentative," Broadway coach Yates Hall said. "In the second inning [Armentrout] looked a lot more comfortable, and in the third inning I think he said he started sliding around on the mound a little bit, so I think he lost his concentration then. I think that long wait [in the top of the third inning] definitely effected him some.
"All in all I think it was pretty good outing. And Cameron Smith came in and did a fine job throwing lots of strikes after that. I can't complain with throwing lots of strikes."
Smith relieved Armentrout to start the fourth inning, and retired three of the four Skyline batters he faced in that frame, with Rodney Custer reaching on an error by third baseman Nick Fulk.
The Hawks' only run came on three Broadway errors opening the fifth inning.
Accettullo started the frame with a routine fly ball to center, which was flubbed by Conley for a two-base error. Travis Custer then reached on Fulk's second error, advancing Accettullo to third.
Gobbler catcher Turner then tried to catch Custer stealing second, but over-threw the bag, enabling Accettulo to cross the plate with Skyline's only tally.
Smith then got Settle to fly out to center, struck out Luke Pingley, walked relief pitcher Joe Bass on a 3-2 count, and struck out Ty Helmick to end the game and preserve the combined no-hitter.
Pingley started on the mound for Skyline, working two innings, giving up five runs on six hits, with a strike out and three walks, and was charged with the loss.
"That's the game sometimes, those little bloopers sometimes fall in there," Skyline head coach Nick Sborz said. "But we gotta' make plays though and I take total responsibility for not having those guys ready. We did not get them ready enough in pre-season to come out here and play a game.
"You could tell it was our first day out. We can only progress from here. It's a long season. This was game one, and there's 19 more to go. There's only one way for us to go, and that's up."