By Brian Eller - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- It didn't seem like much at the time.
It was the top of the first inning, and Albertus Magnus' Erik Suraci was at the plate. Ahead in the count, 2-0, Suraci sent the offering from Shenandoah pitcher Ben Hendrickson into left field, putting a runner on base and a notch in the hit column.
It didn't seem like much at the time. But that single in the first inning proved to be Hendrickson's only blemish. The right-hander tossed a complete game, one-hitter on Tuesday, allowing just the single by Suraci, helping the Hornets to a two-game sweep over the Falcons. Behind Hendrickson, Shenandoah took the first game, 19-0, then overpowered the visiting team in the second game, 25-7.
"It was a phenomenal performance," Hornets coach Kevin Anderson said. "[Ben] pitched 12 pitches an inning, he got outs with all three pitches, was consistently ahead and I couldn't feel happier for him. Ben's been on our JV team the last two years and now he's a varsity starter and the credit goes to him for working so hard."
Although, in hindsight, the early single did keep Hendrickson from a chance at the no-hitter, it also played a factor in his ability to settle in on the mound and establish a presence on the plate from the opening pitch. Over seven innings of work, Hendrickson struck out six batters, issued only one walk and faced the minimum number of batters in all but one inning.
"I've been working on trying to cut down on walks all season," Hendrickson said. "I really had to bear down when I started getting behind in counts, so I felt like I did a good job there. [On the hit] I hung a change-up there and threw that thing right down the middle. But hey, a one-hitter, I'm happy with what happened there. It was a good win for all of us."
Meanwhile, the Shenandoah offense put together a dominating display on its own. The Hornets scored 19 runs in the opening contest, including six in the first inning, thanks to five consecutive doubles, which, although unnecessary, gave Hendrickson a giant cushion with which to work.
The catalyst for the offensive explosion was third baseman Scott Van Dusseldorp. The senior went 4-for-5, including two home runs and two doubles from the cleanup spot.
After coasting to the win in Game 1, the Hornets found themselves behind early in the second game. Albertus Magnus seemed to find its groove in the first inning, and after being blanked in the first contest, the Falcons put up five runs in the opening inning of Game 2 and added two more runs in the second.
Despite the opening threat by the Falcons, Shenandoah returned fire with its trips to the plate. The Hornets put up crooked numbers on the scoreboard in the first three innings and took a 14-7 lead heading to the top of the fourth. Van Dusseldorp continued his impressive day in Game 2, belting another homer in his first at-bat, and following that up with two singles and a double. In all, Van Dusseldorp went 8-for-10 with seven runs and 11 RBIs.
"It's just getting the pitch that you can hit hard," he said. "I'm seeing the ball pretty well, so it's just getting the pitch that you can hit and drive someplace."
With the initial deficit erased, Shenandoah's offense didn't let up, while Hornets relief pitcher Bobby Stefanowicz calmed things down for the Hornets.
The junior picked up his third win and, after sweeping a doubleheader that featured more than 50 runs, Anderson knows his team's performance on Tuesday bodes well for the future.
"It was good to see the bats come alive," he said. "The ballpark played completely different today, actually. This is our fifth straight day of games, and before the winds were blowing in every day and today it wasn't, so the ball was really generating."