Panthers’ Talghadar strikes out 11 as Page earns win

NEW MARKET — Page County baseball coach Jimmy Burke has a rule about pitching senior left-hander Dylan Talghadar.

“We learned this a while ago. Whenever Dylan’s scheduled to pitch, we warm him up really early — like starting 45 minutes before the game,” Burke said. “What we’ve learned is that he gets stronger as he pitches. Warm him up early and by the second or third inning he really has it going.”

Talghadar certainly “had it going” Friday against a game Stonewall Jackson squad. He four-hit the Generals, striking out 11 and offering just two bases-on-balls in a 4-0 shutout.

“He has two breaking balls,” Burke said. “One is a curve and he comes overhand with it. He has another pitch, which he calls a slider. He comes from the side with it and cuts it.”

Talghadar had an array of pitches and, true to his coach’s words, he grew more dangerous as the sunny, breezy evening continued on Friday.

“I have those two breaking pitches that I work on,” Talghadar said. “One comes overhand, and the other is a slider which I work from my left side and try to throw it inside.”

Whatever Talghadar did, it seemed to work. Stonewall had two innings when it was within scoring range, but it couldn’t get anything in against Page County (7-0 Shenandoah District, 9-2 overall), the league leaders.

“We gave up [six] walks and every walk which started the inning but, maybe, one, scored,” said Stonewall assistant coach Brian Murphy, who filled in as head coach because Mike Lenox was at a funeral. “We just had too many walks.”

Other than that, Murphy could find little wrong with his team.

The Generals (1-4, 2-6) made several outstanding plays in the field, and, with the exception of the bases on balls, got a strong outing from sophomore pitcher Brett Jones.

“We’re a very young team,” Murphy said. “I think we have three kids who are eligible for prom (juniors and above), whenever it is. We have four sophomores and one freshman on our roster.

“This was Brett’s first start of the year. We’ve pitched him a few innings of relief, but he hasn’t started. For his lack of experience, I thought he did a good job.”

Jones, a right-hander, went the distance for Stonewall, walking six, but he allowed just six hits to the Panthers and struck out three.

The young pitcher seemed as if he were in trouble right from the start in front of a good crowd at Rebel Park.

He hit Panthers second batter Adam Campbell in the visitors’ half of the first, then walked three straight. His walk to Page’s Seth Comer pushed across Campbell and the visitors were on top, 1-0.

In the second inning, he put two baserunners on, but outstanding plays by Stonewall third baseman Tyler Sommers and center fielder Nathan Miller foiled the Panthers.

“We beat Luray away [on Tuesday], 3-1, and we played great defense in that game,” Murphy said. “So this is the second straight game that we’ve played well in the field. Tyler and Nathan made plays and so did (right fielder) Damian Loya. It’s not been like that all year.”

Indeed, the Generals made 13 errors in their first two games, but as their coach admitted, “We’re a different team now.”

Page County put another run on the board in the visitors’ half of the third. Pitcher Talghadar, who batted cleanup, walked to open the inning, but was forced at second on a fielder’s choice. Comer became the baserunner. He moved to second on a fielder’s choice and, with two outs, came home on a Jacob Day single. It was 2-0.

There were only 10 hits — just one for extra bases — and just a lone error in a cleanly played game.

Trailing by two coming to bat in the bottom of the third, Stonewall looked like it might push a run across the plate.

With one out, pitcher Jones reached base on an error by the Page third baseman. Nick Dotson came on as a courtesy runner. Kory Summers pushed him to second with a hit, but Talghadar struck out the next two Generals to close the inning.

Page County put another run on the scoreboard in the fifth. Clayton Atkins walked to start the inning, then stole second. The Generals bore down for two outs, but Ryan Cave sent a soaring fly ball into left field. At first it appeared that Stonewall’s Duncan Schroeder made a shoestring catch on the ball. However, Burke argued the ball hit the field first before the catch, and the umpires clarified the call. What turned out to be a single got home Atkins for a 3-0 lead.

Again, Stonewall, tried to get something going in its half of the fifth to no avail.

With one out, Bradley Henschel singled over the third baseman and went to second on a throwing error. Cole Holsinger’s single into center pushed Henschel to third. Talghadar struck out the next General. Then on a wild pitch, Henschel was nabbed at home by the catcher.

Talghadar set down the next six Generals he faced.

Page added a run in the seventh. Atkins singled over the shortstop, moved to third on a stolen base and passed ball and came home on a fielder’s choice.

“It’s coming. We’re getting there. We played error-free ball, which is different from the beginning of the season. He’s a good pitcher and Page is a good team. What we’ve got to do right now is start hitting the ball again,” said Murphy.