Warriors trounce Handley on the baseball diamond in regular season finale

STEPHENS CITY – Sherando’s baseball team hit a hot spell over the second half of the regular season, and the Warriors came out on top in a sleepy afternoon game against Handley to continue that momentum into the upcoming Class 4 Northwestern District tournament.

Sherando, playing a rare 4 p.m. contest at home, was sluggish at the start against the struggling Judges but erupted for nine runs in the fourth and fifth innings to roll to an 11-1 victory that ended in five innings due to the mercy rule.

It was the Warriors’ eighth win in their last nine games and their sixth straight in district play. They now await their seeding and opponent in the Class 4 Northwestern District tournament. Sherando (13-7, 8-4 in district play) was one of four teams – along with Millbrook, Fauquier and Kettle Run – in contention for first place entering Tuesday.

“It was a slow start,” Sherando head coach Pepper Martin said of Tuesday’s win. “I don’t know what it’s attributed to – the heat, the early start. We haven’t had an early start like this all season.

“But (Handley) came out and they really went after us, and that’s a tribute to coach (Patrick) Wingfield and his staff. They’ve got some young kids, some inexperienced kids and every year he gets the most out of his kids.”

Handley (2-15, 0-11) scored first with a run in the opening frame.

A leadoff hit-by-pitch hurt Sherando starting pitcher Jared Tinsman in the top of the first, as Web Bentley came around to score on Jacob Stewart’s two-out RBI single that gave the Judges a brief lead.

Sherando came right back with a run in the bottom half, as Payne Bauer tied the game with an RBI triple to center after Michael Usa worked a walk with two outs.

Handley starting pitcher Tommy Downey worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning, but the Warriors took a 2-1 lead on Kyle Armistead’s groundout to short in the third. Bauer, who reached on an error with one out, was running from second on the pitch and scored on the grounder up the middle.

Sherando’s offense broke out for five runs in the fourth inning against Handley sophomore right-hander Logan McGinnis, who came on in relief for the Judges to start the inning. McGinnis plunked the first two batters he faced before surrendering an RBI single to Frank Ritter III.

A throwing error as A.J. Wunder tried to advance to third on a pitch in the dirt allowed the Sherando senior to score, and Tad Dean’s RBI groundout – on which he reached on an error – gave the Warriors a four-run lead. Bauer’s RBI fielder’s choice and Armistead’s run-scoring single gave Sherando a 7-1 lead before McGinnis finally got out of the inning.

“We got off to a slow start but early on we were hitting the ball hard,” said Martin, whose team finished with nine hits. “We were hitting them and they were making plays. And then we started stringing some hits together, ran the bases real well.”

The Warriors ended the game early with four more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Daniel Confrey, the Judges’ third pitcher of the game, walked Jack Duvall to lead off the frame and allowed consecutive singles to Wunder, Ritter and Dean before being pulled in favor of senior Jacob Torian. Ritter’s single drove in Duvall, and Dean lined a two-run single to center to give Sherando a 10-1 lead.

Usa then reached on a three-base throwing error, and a pinch-hit sacrifice fly to shallow right sent Usa across the plate and ended the game.

Tinsman tossed all five innings for Sherando and was able to work out of trouble on multiple occasions en route to the win. Handley put the leadoff man on in each of the first four innings but ended up stranding seven total baserunners.

Tinsman was charged with an earned run on seven hits, a walk and a hit batter while striking out four.

“Jared didn’t have his best stuff but he pressed through. He pushed through and got the job done,” Martin said.

“We could not keep the leadoff man off base but we stepped up and made some plays for him and got him out of any further damage, and then he settled in a little bit.”

Ritter, Armistead and Wunder each had two hits for Sherando, which celebrated senior day following the victory.