SU Baseball Notebook: Skyline grad Ritenour taking over the closer role for Hornets

WINCHESTER – Tyler Ritenour did not make any relief appearances for Shenandoah University’s baseball team through the first 12 games of the season. The 2015 Skyline High School graduate and Garrett College transfer has since emerged as the Hornets’ closer.

Ritenour came on in a bases-loaded jam in the top of the ninth inning of Tuesday’s conference game against Bridgewater and induced a game-ending 4-6-3 double play to nail down SU’s 6-3 win and lock up his third save of the season. The junior right-hander – a lanky, 6-foot-6 submarine pitcher – led the Hornets in saves entering Wednesday’s game at Elizabethtown and was tied for second in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference in that category.

“He’s new to our program and he’s worked very hard in the bullpen to refine his delivery,” Hornets head coach Kevin Anderson said following Tuesday’s victory, the team’s 11th straight. “(Assistant coach Mike) Scimanico deserves a lot of credit for working with Tyler, and Tyler deserves credit for having a good attitude and, quite frankly, making the adjustments necessary, because he’s a submarine pitcher. He’s analyzed a lot of video. We’ve tried to keep it simple for him, and he’s our guy to come in at the end of games. He rose to the occasion today.”

Ritenour, who spent the last two seasons at Garrett College, a community college in McHenry, Maryland, has made nine relief appearances for Shenandoah this season. He’s allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and eight walks while striking out five over nine innings pitched.

Ritenour’s save on Tuesday was his second in as many appearances, as he also recorded a two-out save in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Neumann. Against Bridgewater, Ritenour needed only three pitches to induce a grounder by Eagles No. 2 hitter Jacob Grabeel, who had singled and doubled earlier in the game.

“Definitely taking advantage of the opportunities,” Ritenour said. “I’ve been working on my craft. I had trouble in a few outings with my fastball command and I made some adjustments and it’s starting to pay off. I’m starting to fill the zone up more.”

Ritenour is the second local product to work himself into Shenandoah’s closer role over the past two seasons. Last year, Strasburg grad Tyler Hott led the ODAC with 11 saves.

“My confidence is pretty high,” Ritenour said. “I struggled some in my first few outings, like I said, with my command but two saves in my last two appearances, so that’s pretty big. My confidence is growing.”

RED-HOT HORNETS: Shenandoah carried an 11-game winning streak into Wednesday and had done so behind an eruption at the plate that had the Hornets averaging 12 runs per contest during that stretch.

In those 11 games, the Hornets scored 11 or more runs seven times and 16 or more five times. SU also had 17 or more hits in five contests during that stretch and topped 20 hits twice.

“I give a lot of credit to coach (Bruce) Cameron, our hitting coach, and our guys,” Anderson said. “They’ve broken down video. They’ve analyzed video. They work hard at their craft. All the credit goes to our players and coach Cameron. One thing I really wanna point out that he does a great job (of), we don’t clone hitters here. He tries to get each guy to perform at their highest potential and he works with each guy as an individual. He’s done a tremendous job coaching them. Our guys have done a great job of being coachable and making adjustments. That’s what this game’s all about, continuing to make adjustments.”

Shenandoah’s surge has vaulted the Hornets to the top of the ODAC in most major offensive categories. SU entered Wednesday leading the conference in runs scored (240), RBIs (203), doubles (70), batting average (.334) and on-base percentage (.431). The Hornets also ranked second in total hits (301) and fourth in home runs (15).

The Hornets swatted eight home runs in a doubleheader sweep of Emory & Henry on April 6.

Shortstop Robbie Marcelle led the ODAC with a .470 batting average and 12 steals through Tuesday’s games, and designated hitter Keegan Woolford led the conference with 40 RBIs (he had five three-RBI games in a 10-game span entering the game against Bridgewater).

First baseman Luke Nussman, the ODAC Player of the Week, had 23 hits and 17 RBIs during Shenandoah’s win streak entering Wednesday.

“We’ve all came together and we all set out for one goal, and that’s what we wanna do,” Marcelle said. “We’re all working hard towards it. Every off day we’re in the armory (taking batting practice), we’re getting better, working on our swings. As a whole we’re together, we’re not separated.”

ON THE RISE: Shenandoah (21-6) rose four spots to No. 18 in the latest D3baseball.com/NCBWA Top 25 poll released on Tuesday morning. The Hornets are also fourth in the ODAC with a 9-3 record.

SU has eight conference games remaining in the regular season, including doubleheaders against No. 8 Randolph-Macon (at home on April 21) and Virginia Wesleyan (on the road on Aril 28) to close out its ODAC slate. R-MC and VWC are tied atop the conference standings at 11-1.