FRONT ROYAL – Sherando’s bats had yet to really come alive through the first five games of the 2018 high school baseball season. They heated up on a frigid night at Bing Crosby Stadium on Monday night.
The Warriors tallied a season-high nine hits – including their first home run of the season with Payne Bauer’s solo blast in the fifth – while pitchers Tad Dean and Jared Tinsman combined to limit a struggling Skyline squad to a lone hit in a 6-1 Northwestern District win on the road.
Sherando (3-3, 3-2 district) scored at least one run in five of the seven innings.
“We had some real quality at-bats tonight,” Warriors head coach Pepper Martin said. “On a few occasions we got down 0-2, 1-2, our hitters battled back, got the count full, drew a walk or kept fouling some pitches, stayed alive and then got a pitch to hit. We got some key hits.”
Sherando pushed a run across the plate in the top of the first inning on a play in which the Warriors also lost all-state third baseman Pearce Bucher to an injury following a collision at first base.
Frank Ritter, who drew a leadoff walk, scored from second after the ball was dropped by Skyline first baseman Hunter McIntyre when he and Bucher got tangled up on a close play at the bag as Bucher tried to beat out an infield single. Bucher was helped off the field and wasn’t putting any weight on his left leg.
Martin didn’t go into specifics about Bucher’s injury after the game, saying only that it “may not be good.”
“We hit a little lull there in the second inning with Pearce going down like he did,” Martin said. “I think all the team was concerned about him, but they collectively picked it up as a team after that happened and were there for each other and each guy contributed to the win tonight.”
The Warriors added to their lead with single runs in the third and fourth innings. A two-out error and a hit-by-pitch set up Hunter Entsminger’s RBI single into left in the third, and Ritter gave Sherando a 3-0 lead with his run-scoring single after David Ashby’s leadoff double in the fourth.
Sherando starting pitcher Tad Dean held Skyline hitless through his three innings pitched but the Hawks got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning with a little help from the Warriors’ defense. Sam Harris drew a leadoff walk against reliever Jared Tinsman. After Matt Rutherford’s single put runners at the corners, Harris scored when neither Sherando middle infielder tried to field the throw to second on Rutherford’s steal.
That would be it for Skyline’s offense, as the Hawks (1-5, 0-3 district) mustered just one baserunner against Tinsman after the fourth inning.
“We’re not being very smart, taking pitches and stuff like that,” said Hawks coach Jeff Monroe, whose team struck out 10 times in the loss. “We’ve gotta figure out what it’s gonna take. … Our guys, we’re just struggling right now and when it rains, it pours. We’ve just gotta start making contact and putting the ball in play. Striking out, that’s not doing us no good. We’re just not making the defense work.”
Bauer got that run right back in the top of the fifth when he launched a 1-1 pitch from Skyline starter Tyler Hugo into the netting above the left-field fence for a solo home run to lead off the inning.
Back-to-back singles from Ritter and Dean to lead off the sixth plated another Sherando run, and Skyline’s fourth error of the night on a pickoff attempt at third allowed Dean to scamper home for a 6-1 lead.
Ritter (two runs scored), Entsminger and Ashby each had two hits for the Warriors.
“Playing under these conditions, I like the way offensively we put a number up on the board five out of the seven innings,” Martin said.
Dean, a lefty, was effective in his limited work on the mound for Sherando. After plunking the first batter he faced, Dean struck out the next four and went on to strike out seven against a walk and a hit batter in three innings of work.
Martin said after the game Dean was due to get some work on the mound and was on a pitch count Monday night. The senior threw 51 pitches against Skyline and will be available to pitch again later this week.
Tinsman pitched the final four innings for Sherando and held Skyline to an unearned run on a hit, two walks and three strikeouts.
“I can’t say enough about the job Jared’s done for us pitching this year,” Martin said of the junior, who picked up his first varsity win last week.
Hugo, who left the mound after serving up Bauer’s homer in the fifth, took the loss while allowing four runs (two earned) on seven hits, a walk and a hit batter. The sophomore right-hander struck out two.
Cross pitched the final three innings of relief for the Hawks and allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits, two walks and a pair of strikeouts.