District-leading Pioneers jump out to fast start, defeat Hawks at home

By Brad Fauber

FRONT ROYAL — The numbers on the scoreboard at Bing Crosby Stadium following Monday’s 23-0 drubbing at the hands of Millbrook sent a simple message to Skyline first-year baseball coach Jay Barnes.

“We need to get better,” Barnes said. “That’s pretty much what this showed — we need to get better.”

The Hawks (3-5, 1-3 Northwestern) probably couldn’t have done much worse against the Northwestern District leading Pioneers (7-1, 4-0). Skyline mustered just one hit on offense, committed six errors in the field and allowed 17 hits, 11 walks and 16 earned runs on the mound in the five-inning defeat, which ran the Hawks’ losing streak to five straight games.

Skyline was essentially out of the game by the second inning.

Hawks starting pitcher Michael Burrola allowed an unearned run in the top of the first after a two-out error extended the inning, but he escaped a bases-loaded jam to keep the deficit at one run.

Burrola wasn’t quite so lucky in the second inning. Two walks and a single loaded the bases with one out, and Burrola dealt a four-pitch walk to Millbrook’s Jacob Jaye to score the game’s second run. Two pitches later, Pioneers junior Ryan Hartigan slapped a double to right field that cleared the bases and gave Millbrook a 5-0 lead. Hartigan was thrown out trying to go to third on the hit, but an RBI double by Matt Hendershot and run scoring singles by Austin DeTray and Alex Amos gave the Pioneers an 8-0 lead after two innings.

“The thing about it is that I feel for Michael because he goes out and gives us everything he’s got and we tend to kick it around a little bit behind him and make errors,” Barnes said of Burrola, who exited the game following Amos’ RBI hit after allowing eight runs (five earned) on seven hits and four walks.

Millbrook added seven more runs in the top of the third inning, as Conor Hartigan and Hendershot hit back-to-back home runs to left field and Bruce Keenan knocked in three runs with a triple to right-center off Hawks reliever Brett Ritter.

Jaye, Ryan Hartigan and Conor Hartigan each finished with four RBIs for the Pioneers, who had 10 players tally at least one RBI and seven players record at least two hits.

“I thought we did a nice job with our approach at the plate. The hitting is starting to come around for us,” Pioneers coach Brian Burke said. “We’ve gotten good pitching and good defense up to this point, but I thought our approach was good. Looking to hit to all fields, surprise power in there too.”

Pioneers freshman starting pitcher Anthony Simonelli (4-0) worked an efficient five innings for Millbrook, as he allowed just one hit and a walk while striking out two batters. He needed just 54 pitches in the outing.

“Anthony’s done a great job for us all year. He works quickly, the defense is always on their toes. He commanded three pitches tonight. I think we saw what his fastball is capable of doing,” Burke said.

“He’s a groundball pitcher and I think we saw a lot of those tonight. … If the defense is playing behind him, it makes his job a lot easier.”

Skyline junior Jerrius Baltimore made his first high school pitching appearance in the top of the fifth inning, and the right-hander struggled mightily with his command. He surrendered five walks and a hit batter in just a third of an inning and allowed eight runs.

“This was to get him some experience in a live situation,” Barnes said. “He’s thrown some bullpens but he hasn’t been in a live situation yet. I just wanted to get him that experience, keep working throughout the year. Late in the year this year or next year we’re hoping he can eat some innings for us.”

Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD