By Brad Fauber
FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County's baseball team played its fourth game in five days on Friday evening and the impact was apparent against visiting William Monroe.
The Green Dragons punished Warren County's thinned out pitching staff, and the Wildcats mustered just five hits as they fell 12-1 in a game that ended in the sixth inning due to the mercy rule.
"We expended everything we had Wednesday night [against George Mason]. We're pretty much done. We went 13 innings Wednesday night," Wildcats coach Vernon Mathews said. "... Pitching-wise, we're just running on an empty tank right now. We're pretty beat up, and we have another game [today] depending on the weather."
William Monroe, currently second in the Bull Run District, teed off on Wildcats pitcher Stephen Johnson in the top of the first inning, as the Dragons scored four runs on four hits and a Warren County error.
Two walks by Johnson sandwiched a single by Trey Lamm to start the game, and Austin Batten sent the first run across the plate on a sacrifice fly. Lamm was picked off at second for the inning's second out, but Ben Bohlman, Dylan Shifflett (2-for-3, two RBIs) and Cody Spencer strung together consecutive RBI hits to give William Monroe a 4-0 lead.
Johnson, who made his first start of the season on Friday, lasted 3 1/3 innings and allowed nine runs (six earned) on nine hits and three walks. He struck out five.
"I always try to ... in their first varsity start, kind of break them into that competition, but he didn't have that opportunity," Mathews said. "He's pitched some. He came in and pitched pretty well against Strasburg the other night. But we just don't have that luxury."
Warren County (6-8, 4-7 Bull Run) got a run back in the bottom of the first off Dragons starting pitcher Jeff Early, as Jontae Rollins singled with two outs and came all the way around to score on a double to left-center field by Austin King.
Rollins and King combined for four of Warren County's five hits.
"I thought some kids had some pretty good at-bats, but we weren't really able to put anything together," Mathews said. "We made some mental mistakes on the base paths. I think we're just about out of gas."
William Monroe (16-2, 11-2) added another run in the second on an RBI single by Lamm, before Warren County's defense helped out the Dragons with three errors in the third that led to three more runs.
Shifflett gave the Dragons a 9-1 lead in the fourth inning with an RBI double, and Keegan Wolford (2-for-2, four runs, two stolen bases) led off the fifth with a double and scored on a Warren County throwing error.
Early capped William Monroe's offensive outburst with a two-run double in the top of the sixth to give the Dragons a 12-1 lead.
William Monroe had 13 hits in the win.
"We're real young. I've got six sophomores and freshmrn that play a lot and they need to gain all this experience they can. And then of course we've got some older kids who lead by example," Dragons coach Mike Maynard said. "It was good to come out and get a W on the road and swing the bats the way we swung the bats."
Early (three innings pitched, four hits, two strikeouts), Dustin Knight ( two innings pitched, one hit, two strikeouts) and Batten (three strikeouts) combined to throw the six innings for William Monroe.
Rhett Tierney pitched the final 2 2/3 innings for Warren County and gave up three runs on four hits while striking out five.
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org