By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STEPHENS CITY -- With an injury to Reid Entsminger, Sherando will have to rely more on the rest of its pitching staff this season. Junior Adam Whitacre showed on Wednesday night that he's more than ready to step up for the Warriors.
Whitacre threw a one-hitter to lead Sherando to a 14-0 Northwestern District baseball win over Skyline. The game was called after five innings due to the mercy rule.
"I felt good. I knew my defense was going to have my back out there," Whitacre said. "I knew that we needed this win, so I just went out there and pitched my best."
Entsminger has tendonitis in his elbow and was only used as a designated hitter against the Hawks (3-2, 1-1 Northwestern). Sherando coach Pepper Martin said that he should be back in the field next week, and it's still up in the air as to whether he will see any time on the mound this season.
Whitacre had things under control against the Hawks. He struck out six in five innings, and only allowed a two-out double to Tyler Johnson in the first inning.
"For the most part he stayed ahead of hitters," Martin said. "His curve ball was working well tonight, but his changeup may have been his best pitch. And that is very encouraging. His changeup comes and goes, and tonight he had three pitches working for him."
The Warriors (2-3, 1-2 Northwestern) have struggled early in the season both on defense and with getting timely hits, but did a great job on both counts against the Hawks. Sherando played error-free baseball and hit the ball well in the big situations.
Whitacre led off the bottom of the first with a double to right field. He scored on an error on a ball hit by Zach Henke. Chase Smallwood followed with a double. One out later, another error loaded the bases.
A sacrifice fly by Rennie Marchi gave Sherando a 2-0 lead. Trent Marchi followed with a two-run single to give the Warriors a 4-0 lead.
"We didn't get a lot of hits, but we got hits when we needed them -- runners on base and runners in scoring position," Martin said. "That's something very important, we've been working on to try and improve and we did it."
Skyline starting pitcher Michael Burrola pitched a solid second and third innings, allowing just one hit. In the bottom of the fourth, walks and errors helped Sherando to a 10-run inning.
Sherando sent 15 batters to the plate, but had only four hits. A combined five walks from Burrola and reliever Brett Ritter, and three errors led to the big inning.
"Obviously, we made way too many errors on defense," Skyline coach Jay Barnes said. "Making our pitchers throw way too many unnecessary pitches.
"We look timid right now, and that's not a good thing for us."
Barnes said he saw some positive play from some of his players, but it needs to be that way for the whole team.
"We had a couple kids that are really playing their guts out right now, and I'm impressed with that," Barnes said. "They're really pushing through adversity and it looks good, but we've got to get everybody else to come along on that train."
Whitacre led the Warriors with two doubles and an RBI, while Entsminger added two singles and two RBIs.
After a slow start, the Warriors, the defending Group AA state champions, are hoping this could be the week that the season gets turned around. Sherando hosts Handley on Friday.
"This is a real big week for us," Whitacre said. "If we get two wins, we'll be on a real confidence boost, and you never know what can happen after that."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd