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High school baseball notebook: Skyline searching for players to step up during losing skid

FRONT ROYAL – The 2018 high school baseball season has not been kind to Skyline since the Hawks walked off with a 3-2 win against Spotswood in their season opener on March 15.

Skyline has not won a game since and dropped to 1-5 overall with Monday night’s 6-1 loss at home to Sherando. Head coach Jeff Monroe said following his team’s latest defeat – in which the Hawks mustered only one hit – that Skyline needs players to start stepping up.

“You’ve gotta have leadership, and that’s what I think we’re lacking right now. Leaders need to step up, not just on the field but also vocally and stuff like that,” Monroe said. “We’re dealing with a lot right now.”

It’s difficult to blame any one phase of the game on Skyline’s struggles this spring. The Hawks’ team batting average dipped to .214 (33-for-154) after they went a collective 1-for-22 against the Warriors on Monday night, and they have just three extra-base hits while striking out 59 times through the first six games of the season.

On the mound, Skyline pitchers have a respectable team ERA of 4.30 – the Hawks have committed 17 errors and are allowing 7.2 runs per game – but have dealt 40 walks in 40 2/3 innings and hit nine batters.

Despite those struggles, the Hawks have lost just one game by more than six runs (a 12-2 loss to Class 4 Millbrook) and lost two games by two runs or less. Skyline had held the lead in each of its first five games before Monday night.

“We haven’t gotten blown out other than the Millbrook game,” Monroe said.

“We just can’t get the big hit when we need it. We get guys on base, and when we need somebody to come through, we don’t get that hit. That’s been the problem so far this year. Guys that you’re counting on to get big hits haven’t really came through for us yet. Hopefully we’ll get it before the year’s over.”

Skyline returns to action against Strasburg today.

MIXED REVIEWS

Sherando’s win over Skyline gave the Warriors back-to-back victories for the first time this season, and head coach Pepper Martin said following the game that the “reviews right now are mixed” regarding the Warriors’ 3-3 performance through their first six games of the season.

Monday’s victory was the first win this season for Sherando against a team not named Brentsville, and the Warriors have started the spring 0-2 against fellow Class 4 Northwestern District competition after dropping games to Fauquier (13-3 on April 3) and James Wood (4-1 last Thursday).

The 6-1 win over Skyline offered steps in the right direction in multiple areas for the Warriors, including at the plate, where they set new season highs in runs scored and hits (nine) after entering the game with a team batting average of .231.

Senior left-hander Tad Dean and junior righty Jared Tinsman combined to hold Skyline to one unearned run on one hit and three walks, dropping Sherando’s team WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) from 1.99 to 1.73 and its ERA from 4.86 to 3.98.

“It’s a work in progress, but I know this team’s gonna be fine offensively,” said Martin, who added that Sherando’s pitching has been inconsistent and the defense has been negatively impacted by the poor weather that has limited the Warriors to a handful of outdoor practices on the diamond.

“We still have a lot of room to improve and get better, and that’s gonna come with getting some practice time on our field and getting some reps there defensively, game situation-wise, baserunning. It’s a little mixed. At this point, 3-3, we’d have liked to be in better position because we’re 0-2 in the district, but there’s still a lot of baseball left to be played, and this team’s gonna be fine.”

RAMS SNAP SKID

Strasburg ended its five-game losing streak with an 8-1 non-district win over Stonewall Jackson on the road Monday evening, giving the Rams (2-5) their second victory over the Generals this season.

Strasburg staked an early lead with a run in the top of the first inning and added three runs in the third, another in the sixth and three more in the seventh.

Senior Austin Miller went the distance for the Rams on the mound, limiting Stonewall (2-6) to an unearned run on five hits, two walks, a hit batter and six strikeouts in seven innings pitched.

The top three hitters in Strasburg’s order – Corey Keller, Justin King and Trevor Sager – combined to score seven of the Rams’ eight runs, while Miller and Chase Hart (double) each finished with two RBIs.

Stonewall’s Matt Dove took the loss after allowing eight runs (six earned) on four hits, three walks, two hit batters and three strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. Austin Ritchie drove in the Generals’ lone run in the sixth.

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