Dragons roll through Hawks
FRONT ROYAL — Visiting William Monroe had it all working against Skyline on Monday evening at Bing Crosby Stadium.
The Green Dragons tallied 11 hits — including seven in an eight-run third inning — while starting pitcher Jacob Tomlin held the Hawks to just one hit as William Monroe rolled to a 12-0 Conference 28 victory. The game was called after the fifth inning due to the mercy rule.
“We’re starting to play a little better,” said Dragons coach Mike Maynard, whose team improved to 5-2. “We struggled earlier in the year. We had some bad injuries, some discipline issues. This is the first time we’ve had our whole team, so it was good to see everybody together. Hopefully we can turn this thing around and get rolling.”
Tomlin, who allowed three walks and hit a batter while striking out nine, carried a no-hitter into the bottom of the fifth before Hawks senior Dillon Sirbaugh broke up the bid with an infield single with one out.
Skyline (4-4) starting pitcher Joe Pingley struggled with his command early, as he allowed a one-out double to Cody Spencer (3-for-4, two doubles) in the top of the first inning before walking three straight to plate William Monroe’s first run.
Pingley escaped further damage in the inning and stranded two more runners in the second before the Dragons erupted for eight runs in the third on the strength of seven hits and three Skyline errors.
“We’re just struggling right now all the way around,” Hawks coach Jay Barnes said. “We’ve got three days of practice coming up. … Just go back and get back to work for a couple days and see if we can’t figure out where we went wrong.”
The Dragons opened the top of the third inning with three straight infield singles — including back-to-back bunt base hits — to load the bases, and two runs came home on Tobias Collier’s single to center.
Another run scored on a grounder by Dustin Knight — who reached safely on an error — and senior Keegan Woolford (2-for-4, two doubles, three RBIs), the 2014 Conference 28 Player of the Year, drove home two more runs with a double that kicked up chalk along the first-base line and gave the Dragons a 7-0 lead.
Senior Jeff Early (2-for-3) capped the surge with a line drive RBI single to right off Hawks reliever Dylan Hamman, and an error on the play scored another run to give William Monroe a 9-0 lead.
“We’ve got some young kids that don’t always have the great plate discipline that they should,” Maynard said, “but I think they’re getting better. That third inning was big for us. That gave us a lot of confidence, made my starting pitcher, Jacob Tomlin, relax.”
The Dragons added two more runs in the fourth inning on RBIs by Woolford and Dylan Shifflett, and pinch-hitter Spencer Eldridge belted a solo homer to left field in the fifth off Skyline pitcher Aaron Tasker.
In addition to the 12 runs and 11 hits, Skyline’s pitchers combined for seven walks and a hit batter while striking out only one William Monroe hitter.
“We’ve got to work on getting ahead in counts so we’re in a position to throw pitches we want to throw,” Barnes said. “Same thing with all our pitchers. We’re working on getting ahead.”
Skyline had several chances to score runs against Tomlin and the Dragons, as the Hawks left a runner at third in each of the first two innings. The Hawks also loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth before Tomlin induced a fly-out to left-center to end the game.
“I think [Tomlin] threw well. I’m not going to take anything away from him,” Barnes said. “He threw great. He went up there and went after the strike zone, was throwing two pitches for strikes. He did a good job. I just don’t know where our approach is at the plate right now. That’s something that we need to work on this week and try to find it again.”
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org