Hawks’ Kandrick impressive in debut against John Champe

FRONT ROYAL – Sophomore Gavin Kandrick made quite an impression in his varsity baseball debut for Skyline on Wednesday night against visiting John Champe.

Kandrick, in his first season with the Hawks after moving to the area from Pennsylvania this school year, went 3-for-3 at the plate and drove in three runs to help lead Skyline to a 12-1 Conference 28 victory in their season opener against the Knights at Bing Crosby Stadium. The game was called in the fifth inning due to the mercy rule.

“I was seeing the ball really well,” said Kandrick, who played JV baseball last season at Downingtown West High School, which is located about 40 miles west of Philadelphia. “One thing I tried to work on was my mental game. My mental game has been really shaky in the offseason. In the cage I’ve been hesitant and just doubting myself. I just got up to the box and just didn’t think about it, just looked for that one pitch.”

Kandrick, who tallied three singles and a walk in the victory, was one of many players who made solid contributions at the plate on Wednesday for the Hawks, who finished the game with 11 hits.

Skyline (1-0) also got effective pitching – backed by a solid defensive effort – from starter Tyler Ritenour and Ryan Abel, as the duo combined to limit John Champe (0-1) to three hits and an unearned run.

“Really this is our first time doing anything live,” Hawks coach Jay Barnes said. “This is the first time our guys have seen live pitching. This is the first time our pitchers have thrown to hitters … [and] infielders actually being in a dirt infield. For that matter, I think our guys came out and played great.”

After Ritenour stranded a pair of Knights baserunners in the top of the first inning, Skyline’s bats went to work in the bottom of the frame.

Hawks leadoff man Robert Presley reached on an error – one of four for John Champe in the game – to start the inning and two wild pitches and a walk to Kandrick put runners at the corners for Hunter Partlowe. The senior catcher flared a double down the right-field line to score Presley and give the Hawks a quick 1-0 lead.

“The season started off really, really good and actually better than what I expected for it being the first out on the field, seeing live arms from other kids instead of coaches, seeing groundballs and everything else,” said Partlowe, who went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.

Senior Tyler Johnson plated two more runs for Skyline on a double to right-center that got lost in the sun before John Champe starting pitcher Zach Burdick escaped further damage with three straight strikeouts.

Skyline added two more runs in the second inning, as Kandrick delivered the first of his three line-drive singles to plate a run. He later scored on a Champe throwing error to give the Hawks a 5-0 lead.

“We were aggressive on the base paths for sure,” Barnes said. “Our guys were out there and they were ready to run. I was really impressed with that.”

The Hawks blew the game open in the third inning when they scored four runs on RBI singles by Ritenour and Kandrick, an RBI fielder’s choice by Presley and a John Champe error.

Abel delivered an RBI single in his only at-bat in the fourth inning, and Kandrick’s two-run single three batters later gave Skyline a 12-0 lead.

John Champe’s lone run came on a Hawks throwing error following Nick Ryan’s pinch-hit single in the top of the fifth inning.

Ritenour, who was on a pitch-count limit on Wednesday, allowed two hits, two walks, a hit batter and struck out one in three innings. Abel pitched the final two innings and allowed one unearned run on a hit and a walk while striking out two.

“I thought Tyler threw well,” Barnes said. “He was a little rocky there at the start but he kind of found the strike zone and kept pitching it. Then Ryan came out and threw well.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com