Warriors hold off Colonels behind six-run fourth inning

WINCHESTER – For the second time in as many nights, Sherando High School’s baseball team used one big inning to power a victory.

After rallying for a win over Millbrook at home Tuesday night with a four-run fifth inning, the Warriors came back on the road Wednesday evening and fired off six runs in the fourth against James Wood. Sherando needed every bit of that run production, as the Colonels clawed back to make things interesting before falling short in a 7-5 Warrior win in Conference 21 West action.

The Warriors’ fourth-inning outburst at the time gave them a seven-run lead, which James Wood (4-6) nearly erased with five runs over the final three frames.

“I’m not sure we feel fortunate,” said Warriors senior Adam Miller, who came within an out of tossing a complete game. “I mean we definitely could’ve played better. We were able to be lucky enough and hold them off. A win’s a win but we’ve got much improvement (to make).”

Sherando (10-3) staked its starting pitcher to a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning on third baseman Pearce Bucher’s two-out RBI double to left before erupting in the fourth behind four hits and two James Wood errors.

Myles McPartland, who batted twice in the inning, led off the rally with a walk off starter Joel Smith, followed by a Hunter Entsminger single on a fly ball that got lost in the lights. A Colonel error on a sacrifice bunt attempt loaded the bases, and Michael Usa drew a walk to extend the Warriors’ lead to 2-0.

A strikeout later, leadoff man Frank Ritter III (3-for-4, three RBIs, two runs scored) cleared the bases with a three-run standup triple to left-center that pushed the lead to five. Miller helped his own cause when he greeted Colonels reliever Mitch Craig with an RBI single that was compounded by another James Wood error that moved Miller all the way to third. Bucher then launched an RBI double to right field for a 7-0 Sherando lead.

“We were seeing the ball,” said Bucher, who was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs. “We were just hunting fastball. We all established a plan in the dugout before the inning and everyone seemed to just pull through with it.”

The offensive production ceased after the fourth for the Warriors, who cleared their bench with substitutions in the fifth inning and mustered just two hits over the final three frames.

“You can make excuses and say … we changed the lineup up a little bit to get some other guys some playing time, but that didn’t have anything to do with it,” Warriors head coach Pepper Martin said. “Those guys did fine that came in the game. It’s just that we, I don’t know, we just seemed to have a temporary loss of focus.”

Miller scattered a pair of hits over the first four innings before he hit some trouble in the fifth when James Wood led off the frame with back-to-back singles from Colby Monroe and Tanner George. Miller got the next two Colonels on a strikeout and a comebacker but a passed ball and an error allowed two runs to score.

“I was just locating. When you’re able to locate you’re able to get a lot of guys out. We were just mixing well with the fastball, change and curve. I had control of all of them,” said Miller, who allowed five runs (two earned) on eight hits, a hit batter and seven strikeouts. “Toward the end of the game I kind of lost control, kind of let my emotions get control of me and it kind of snowballed. I’ve gotta do better than that.”

Another Sherando error led off the bottom of the sixth to start another two-run spurt. Ben Russo and Trenton Campbell followed with singles, the latter of which drove in the Colonels’ third run of the night.

George’s RBI single into left cut Sherando’s lead to 7-4, but Campbell ran himself into the inning’s second out when he got caught between second and third on the throw to the plate and was tagged out by Bucher.

“Any time you can stop a rally it’s gonna be big in the game,” Bucher said. “A couple more hits, that runner in scoring position, something could’ve turned for the worst.”

James Wood added another run in the seventh on Brett Baker’s RBI single but a pair of ground outs sealed Sherando’s 10th victory of the season.

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