By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STEPHENS CITY -- Millbrook freshman Anthony Simonelli looked like anything but a freshman on Thursday night.
The pitcher threw a complete-game three-hitter to lead the Pioneers to a 7-1 Northwestern District victory over Sherando.
"Simonelli is incredible," Millbrook coach Brian Burke said. "To come out in a game of this magnitude as a freshman, and to what he did tonight -- I'm just amazed. Ice water in his veins. He's a competitor."
Sherando not only struggled offensively, but also in the field with four errors.
Millbrook took the lead in the top of the first and didn't look back. Millbrook's Trenton Burgreen, Jacob Jaye and Ryan Hartigan each had a single to load the bases off Sherando starter Adam Whitacre with one out. Whitacre struck out Conor Hartigan, but an two-run single by Matt Hendershot gave the Pioneers a 2-0 lead.
Millbrook added another run in the top of the second. Michael Tinsman singled to start the inning, but was forced out at second on a grounder by Austin DeTray. Alex Amos followed with a single and DeTray and Amos advanced a base on an error. Bruce Keenan hit into a fielder's choice, which scored DeTray for a 3-0 lead.
"Adam [Whitacre] struggled a little bit," Sherando coach Pepper Martin said. "Tonight he just didn't have his stuff. He gave up a couple 0-2 [count] hits, which is very uncharacteristic. I think a lot of credit has to go to their hitters too."
In the top of the third, Connor Hartigan tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Tinsman.
"We put the ball in play. I think we hit the ball hard tonight. We found some holes," Burke said. "We didn't put up the big inning, but we looked to score every inning, and it proved to be the winning formula."
Sherando cut the lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the third on an RBI single by Chase Smallwood.
Two more Sherando errors helped lead to three more runs by Millbrook in the sixth and seventh innings.
"We've got to stop making stupid errors and make the routine plays," Sherando senior Reid Entsminger said. "They made routine plays and got timely hitting. They're a good baseball team, but not 7-1 better than us."
Millbrook has won 11 straight games, after losing to Broadway in its season opener. Amos led the Pioneers with four hits.
Entsminger said he still thinks Sherando will turn things around.
"I have all the faith in the world, we just got to get rid of the errors and just start hitting the ball," Entsminger said. "Some games we hit the ball, and some games it's just not good. We got to be more consistent in all areas of the game. That comes with time and practice and in due time. We should be good by the end of May."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org