By Brad Fauber
STEPHENS CITY -- Sherando's baseball team got some timely hitting from its offense in the first few innings of Thursday's game against visiting James Wood, and Warriors starting pitcher Adam Whitacre took care of the rest.
Whitacre tossed six innings while allowing just two unearned runs as Sherando beat the Colonels, 8-3, in Northwestern District action.
"Adam threw a great game. ... We hit the ball well tonight. We made our plays except for a couple throwing errors, but that didn't hurt us at all," said Warriors senior catcher Chase Smallwood, who was 2-for-3 with an RBI in the victory. "There in the last inning we got a couple bad bounces, they just found holes, but that was about it. We did great."
The Warriors (8-4, 4-3 Northwestern) scored seven of their runs in the first three innings, which was plenty for Whitacre. The junior left-hander surrendered just two hits and four walks while striking out four in his six innings.
Whitacre did work into some trouble in the third and fourth innings by walking the leadoff batters in both frames, but he was able to escape trouble both times without surrendering a run.
"He'd have one inning where he was hitting spots and then another where he -- he ended up walking two batters to lead off the inning. We want to stay away from that. ... But still overall he pitched a solid game against a decent hitting team," Warriors coach Pepper Martin said.
Sherando -- with a little help from James Wood's defense -- jumped out to a three-run lead against Colonels pitcher Bryan Whitacre in the bottom of the first inning behind three hits and a Colonels error.
Adam Whitacre (2-for-2, two runs, two stolen bases) led off the inning with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Zach Henke and then scored on a single to center field by Smallwood.
A walk by Reid Entsminger, a single by Andrew Loudan and a hit batter later loaded the bases with two outs, and Trent Marchi flared a hit to right field that was badly misjudged, allowing the ball to fall safely and two runs to cross the plate.
James Wood answered with two runs in the top of the second. A Warriors error with two outs extended the inning, and Adam Whitacre missed his spot on an 0-1 fastball that Colonels junior Kris Malsch sent over the fence in left field to cut the deficit to one run.
"His fastball he was able to spot better than he normally does," Smallwood said of Adam Whitacre. "We were able to hit the outside corner, the inside corner. But Kris Malsch, the home run he hit, I called for the ball [a foot] outside and he threw it right down the middle."
Sherando extended the lead in the third with a four-run frame. Entsminger led off the inning with a single and Loudan reached on an error before a sacrifice bunt by Hayden Fox put both runners in scoring position. Entsminger and Loudan each came in to score on wild pitches with two outs.
"It kind of was all over the place with key hits to drive some runs in, but we also had the benefit of scoring on three wild pitches. That helped too, but we did have smart, aggressive baserunning," Martin said.
Senior Rennie Marchi, hitting in ninth spot for the Warriors, delivered an RBI single later in the third, and Henke's infield single scored Marchi to give Sherando a 7-2 lead.
"We had some contributions throughout our lineup tonight, which was good. We haven't been getting that a lot," Martin said. "We've been pretty top heavy this year. We just made a couple little adjustments as far as the order and let some guys relax and not think they had to do too much."
Sherando added another run in the bottom of the sixth when Adam Whitacre led off with a walk and came around to score on a stolen base and two wild pitches.
Junior Ty Michaud pitched the seventh inning for Sherando and surrendered an unearned run on a single by Dakota Orndorff, but he got Noah Keller to strike out with the bases loaded to end the game.
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org