Entsminger tosses shutout as Warriors rout Hawks
STEPHENS CITY – What had the makings of a pitchers’ duel Tuesday night between Sherando High School sophomore Hunter Entsminger and Skyline junior Dillon Sisk quickly turned into a blowout.
Entsminger and Sisk traded hitless innings through the first three frames of the teams’ Northwestern District match up, but a few mistakes from the Hawks soon sent baserunners pouring across the plate for the Warriors.
Sherando erupted for 10 runs in the fourth and fifth innings to offer plenty of support for Entsminger, who limited the visiting Hawks to one hit as the Warriors rolled to a 10-0 victory in a game that ended in five innings due to the mercy rule.
“The score is not a very good indication of the type of game this was,” said Warriors head coach Pepper Martin, whose team has won three straight. “I mean through first three innings this was a classic pitchers’ duel. … We just wanted to try to get some baserunners on however we could get them on – a walk, hit-by-pitch, base hit, putting it in play, even getting on by an error. We just needed some baserunners so we could get them in motion a little bit.”
The Warriors (11-3) finally got that steady stream of baserunners against Sisk in the bottom of the fourth inning and generated four runs as a result.
The rally started when Sisk, prior to his full-count offering to Adam Miller, was called for an illegal pitch for failing to wipe off his hand after blowing into it before stepping onto the rubber. Miller was awarded a leadoff walk with the balk call and promptly stole second and moved to third on a throwing error from the catcher before scoring on a wild pitch on a strikeout of Sherando junior Pearce Bucher.
A hit-by-pitch put two on with one out two batters later and Sisk induced what could have been an inning-ending double-play ball on a grounder to short, but the ball was booted to load the bases. Sisk’s second balk of the frame plated Sherando’s second run.
“I think he just lost focus there on that balk call and it was a struggle from there on out,” Hawks head coach Jay Barnes said of Sisk, who was tagged for eight runs on four hits, four walks, two hit-by-pitches and seven strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings.
Brett Bodenschatz, who failed to get a suicide squeeze bunt down on a pitch well out of the strike zone with the bases loaded before Sisk’s second balk, made amends by delivering Sherando’s first hit in the fourth inning, a laser right back up the middle that scored two more runs to give the Warriors a 4-0 lead.
“The first time through the order nothing was really working and we changed our approach, knew we had to get his pitch count up because he was throwing well,” said Bodenschatz, who had two of Sherando’s four hits and three RBIs. “We changed our approach, didn’t get stubborn and give up and then obviously it paid off.”
Sherando’s four-run outburst was plenty for Entsminger, who walked one and hit a batter in addition to his one hit allowed while striking out six over five innings. The right-hander was perfect through the first four innings.
“Definitely today I just trusted more in my velocity, put trust in my fastball today, not trying to spot it and just throwing the ball,” said Entsminger, who also drove in two runs. “And definitely the defense behind me, they’re great defenders. I have the most trust in them. They’re just doing their job and I know I can count on them whenever I need to.”
Entsminger and the Warriors quelled a potential Skyline rally in the top of the fifth, as the Hawks loaded the bases behind a hit-by-pitch, Luis Garcia’s single and a walk with one out but failed to push a run across.
“Big inning. It’s a big boost to come out of bases loaded and one out with no runs,” Entsminger said. “It’s just a big boost. We were all riled up and just ready to go.”
Sherando responded to Entsminger’s shutdown inning with six more runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Warriors No. 9 hitter Jack Duvall got things started with a leadoff single, and Sherando eventually loaded the bases with one out after a hit-by-pitch and a walk. Ravyn Rouse and Myles McPartland drew back-to-back walks to score a pair of runs and end Sisk’s night on the mound.
Entsminger greeted Hawks reliever Sam Harris with a two-run single on his first pitch to give Sherando an 8-0 lead. Bodenschatz skied an RBI single down the right-field line, and the game ended on Michael Usa’s fly ball to left that was dropped, sending the 10th run across the plate.
“The first time through the lineup I thought our players’ swings were too long and hard,” Martin said. “… Second time through the lineup the players took it upon themselves to make adjustments, and we shortened things up and started to put it in play a little bit.”
Sherando returns to action Saturday at Woodgrove, while Skyline (8-2) will face another road game against a traditional Northwestern District power in Millbrook Thursday.
“The big message is we were in that game and we let a few mistakes eat at us and let it cost us the game essentially,” Barnes said. “I’m not gonna take anything away from Sherando, they’re a good baseball team, but we’re definitely able to play with that caliber of team. We just made some mistakes tonight and let it get the better of us.”
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org