By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
STEPHENS CITY -- Sherando's Chris Gray pitched a complete-game shutout on Monday to lead the Warriors to a 5-0 baseball victory over Washington (W.Va.).
"We've had to play four games in a row and we really needed a quality start from our pitcher," Sherando coach Pepper Martin said. "Chris gave us that tonight. He [threw] 95 pitches and we had hoped for a few less than that, but we're very pleased with the way he performed. They were able to hit him, but he kept them from hitting him hard and that helped our defense make plays."
Gray pitched a two-hitter through seven innings and separated those two hits over 23 batters. Doug Perry led off the game with a single to left for the Patriots. The next batter to get a hit off Gray was Cameron Barker, the next-to-last hitter of the game for Washington.
"I did give up a couple of walks that I shouldn't have," Gray said. "I'm happy to get the win, but in a close game giving up walks like that can really hurt your team."
Gray did allow two walks, but he also had seven strikeouts and seemed to get better as the game progressed. He struck out five of the last 12 batters he faced.
Patriots starter Robbie Reynolds had a respectable night, allowing three runs on three hits. He struck out four and walked five in the loss.
"We just committed too many errors," Patriots coach Bruce Davidson said. "It doesn't make any difference how well your pitcher does if you're not making the plays in the field. Our team just hasn't found itself yet. We're very young and it's going to take some time."
The Warriors' offense finally struck in the third, giving Gray the runs he needed to get the win, but Martin wasn't satisfied with his team's performance at the plate.
"Defensively we played well, and Gray did a good job on the mound," Martin said. "But we wanted a lot more out of our bats. We've done a lot better at the plate than we did tonight. We swung at too many balls and we weren't patient. We just didn't have a good approach at the plate."
Dominique Porter led off the third with a walk, then stole second base to get into scoring position. A sacrifice fly by Brogan Hoover put Dominique Porter on third, and Brad Deck drove him home with a single up the middle to put the Warriors up 1-0.
"I got down two in the count," Deck said. "He really wasn't getting his curveball over the plate, so I expected a fastball. That's what I got and I was able to drive it up the middle."
After Deck's RBI single, Tre Porter got to first on a throwing error to second in an attempt get Deck, the lead runner, out. Deck advanced to third after the ball sailed into center field.
Warriors designated hitter Derek Reid smashed a triple over the right center-field fence to score Deck and Tre Porter to give Sherando a 3-0 lead.
"We try to play tough competition and you're not going to win many games making mistakes against a team like Sherando," Davidson said. "We're really a lot better than we look. We have the potential, we just aren't showing it right now."
The Warriors added another two runs in the sixth. Brandon Fletcher drove in Levi McDonald with a single to right, then scored from third on a balk by Patriots reliever Taylor Vasquez.
Washington's most serious threat to score came in the sixth. Gray walked Trey Fields with two outs. Austin Larcomb followed with a hard shot to second base, but Deck made a diving stop and then flipped the ball to Sherando shortstop Tre Porter to end the inning.
"I really got a lot of support from the defense tonight," Gray said. "That play by Brad in the sixth stopped a potential rally."