By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL -- Sherando senior pitcher Zach Carney was bothered about giving up three seventh-inning runs in relief during a victory over Handley on Thursday night, so some changes were made.
"It was nice to get [my control] back since Millbrook and that last inning against Handley the other day," Carney said. "[Assistant] Coach [Craig Bodenschatz], before the game, told me to keep my shoulder closed a little bit before delivering the ball. So, little adjustments really go a long way."
The adjustment clearly worked as Carney walked only one Skyline batter, that coming with two outs in the sixth inning, as the Warriors topped the Skyline Hawks, 10-1, on Saturday night, completing their Northwestern District regular season schedule. The Warriors finished at 6-2 in the district, guaranteeing them no worse than a tie for the hotly contested top spot.
Carney tossed six innings, gave up one unearned run on seven hits and struck out eight to improve his record to 4-2.
Skyline starting pitcher Ryan Settle had a strong first inning, but the Warriors sent 10 batters to the plate in the second. Three hits, three walks and a hit batsman helped give Sherando a 6-0 lead.
Senior second baseman Brad Deck initiated the Sherando scoring, lacing a line drive three feet inside the right-field foul line, landing 10 feet in front of the fence, then scooting into the corner in foul territory. Deck converted the hit into a triple.
"I wasn't really thinking of it because I thought they were going to get the ball in quicker," Deck said. "So I was running full speed toward third and saw coach [Pepper Martin] waving me around, so I hit the bag and made a pretty wide turn, then coach held me up as the ball was coming in. It's my first triple of the year."
Deck's bash scored Carney, who was hit by a pitch, and Brogan Hoover, who drew a walk.
Sherando's offense dropped off just a tad in the third, with three more runs scored on two hits and two walks.
Sherando sophomore shortstop Tre Porter again displayed his knack for timely hitting. Each of his two singles (2-for-5) produced two RBIs.
Porter's first single was punched through a hole in a drawn-in infield in the second-inning outburst. His second hit came in the third frame -- a two out, 3-1 count, solid liner to left to plate Chris Gray and Brandon Fletcher, who both reached on walks.
"Coach [Martin] told me to change my approach after my first at-bat," Porter said. "He told me he wants a singles swing. That means cut down on my hard swing and just drive the ball down on a line and not in the air. And that's what I did and [I] had to get the runs in.
"[On the second hit], I knew it wasn't gonna come that hard, so I just sat back and let it come to me. I just let it get there, then drove it out into left field."
"[Porter's] swing was a little long in his first at-bat," Martin said. "Tre's such a coachable young man and, as talented as he is, he listens to every little bit of information and pointers we give him."
Skyline pitchers issued nine free passes. In the fourth inning, Carney drew a lead-off walk, and with two outs, Sherando got three more walks, pushing Carney across the dish with the Warriors' 10th run.
The Hawks barely avoided the invocation of the 10-run lead mercy rule in the fifth inning.
Pinch-hitting for Eli McEathron to lead-off, junior Luke Pingley pinged a rocket shot that missed pitcher Carney's left ear by only a few inches as it shot over second base for a single.
The Warriors muffed a double play on Mike Accettullo's grounder to short by dropping the hand-off at second and Pingley was safe. Accettullo and Pingley advanced to second and third on a passed ball.
Pinch-hitter Barry Smallwood then hit a medium-speed grounder six feet inside of first base. Smallwood slid head-first for the bag, raising a dust cloud. Carney dropped the toss from first baseman Gray, Smallwood was safe and Pingley crossed the plate with an unearned run. Carney then struck out Ty Helmick, looking, to retire the side with two runners left on base.
The Warriors entered the game Saturday in a three-way tie for first with Handley and Millbrook.
Handley and Millbrook are both 5-2 in the district. Handley hosts James Wood on Monday. The Hawks, winless in the district, have the last opportunity to impact the final standings when they host Millbrook on Tuesday.