Hawks top Falcons on the road

Skyline second baseman Robert Presley has a throw get past him as Central's Cody Sager slides in to steal second base during the fourth inning of Thursday's game in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK — Skyline baseball coach Jay Barnes has been trying to instill in his team the importance of putting a complete game together. The Hawks gave Barnes just what he was looking for on the road Thursday evening at Central.

The Hawks demonstrated some timely hitting and got a strong pitching effort from senior right-hander Tyler Ritenour on their way to a 7-3 Conference 28 win over the Falcons.

Skyline (4-3) staked itself an early lead with a three-run first inning and added three more runs in the top of the seventh inning to lock down its third straight victory.

“It was a really good win,” Barnes said. “It was a big team win for us. We’ve been preaching the one team concept and playing from the first pitch to the last pitch. That was big for us, especially to put up a few insurance runs in the seventh inning like that. That was something that we haven’t done and it was nice see to that improvement.”

The Hawks got things rolling in the top of the first inning with a little help from Central (2-4), as a Falcons error and back-to-back walks loaded the bases with no outs. Skyline senior and cleanup hitter Tyler Johnson plated the game’s first run with an RBI groundout to short.

Central's Hank Hoover slides safely into second base as Skyline's Robert Presley waits on the late throw during the third inning of Thursday's game in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

Falcons starting pitcher Cody Sager struck out Joe Pingley for the inning’s second out, but Ritenour helped his own cause when he lined a 2-1 fastball into center field for a two-run single.

“I got ahead in the count and I was just waiting for the fastball,” Ritenour said. “I knew it was coming. He threw two straight off-speed pitches and I was just waiting for it. Kept my weight back and drove it up the middle.”

Riding the momentum of Skyline’s quick 3-0 lead, Ritenour was untouchable on the mound early. The right-hander struck out five of the first six batters he faced, all of which went down looking.

Ritenour finished the game with seven strikeouts and allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits, three walks and a hit batter in 5 2/3 innings. He said he was focused on working inside against Central’s batters and was able to use his curveball effectively against right-handed hitters, causing them to bail out on a called third strike on two different occasions.

“I was just focusing on getting ahead in the count and I was letting my curveball do the work. I had it going tonight,” said Ritenour, who is now 2-1 this spring.

Central pitcher Zachary Hamman tries to put a tag on Skyline's Marcus Burke at home plate during the fifth inning of Thursday's game in Woodstock. Burke was called safe on the play. Rich Cooley/Daily

“I mixed a slider in there, too. I had great movement tonight.”

Central broke through against Ritenour for single runs in the third and fourth innings. Falcons senior Brandon Paschall led off the bottom of the third inning with a double down the left-field line, and later scored on an RBI groundout by Zach Hamman.

In the fourth, Sager worked a leadoff walk, stole second and scored on a single to left-center by Corey Sibert (2-for-3, double, RBI) to cut Skyline’s lead to 3-2.

The Falcons had a scoring opportunity cut short in the fifth inning when Hawks right fielder Gavin Kandrick completed an inning-ending double play by throwing out a Central runner at third base. Central also left the bases loaded in the sixth against Skyline reliever Ryan Abel.

Central coach Donn Foltz said the Falcons weren’t aggressive enough at the plate in the early innings before squandering a few scoring opportunities. The Falcons also hadn’t played since last Friday as Foltz mourned the death of his father earlier this week.

Skyline's Marcus Burke dives back to first base as Central's Corey Sibert awaits the throw on a pickoff attempt in the fifth inning of Thursday's game in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

“We got in a little bit of a hole. We also had some opportunities and didn’t take advantage twice anyway. It’s been an up and down week, so I can’t say much. It has not been easy on them either,” Foltz said.

“We were a little out of sync. We just didn’t play well enough to win,” he added.

Skyline led 4-2 heading into the seventh inning and padded its lead with three more runs off Hamman, who came on in relief of Sager in the fifth inning. The Hawks opened the inning by loading the bases with two singles and a walk before a Central error allowed a run to score. Pingley and Abel delivered back-to-back RBI singles with one out to give the Hawks a 7-2 lead.

“We left the bases loaded once tonight and I think left guys on second and third once, so definitely getting some runs in, getting some hits when we needed them was definitely good, clutch hitting,” Barnes said.

Central scored a run in the bottom of the seventh on a wild pitch.

Skyline's Tyler Ritenour fires a pitch against Central during Thursday's game in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

Abel pitched the final 1 1/3 innings for Skyline and allowed an earned run on two walks. Robert Presley, Hunter Partlowe and Marcus Burke (1-for-1, walk, two stolen bases) each scored two runs for the Hawks.

Sager went 4 1/3 innings for Central and allowed four runs (one earned) on two hits, three walks and two hit batters while striking out three in the losing effort.

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