Sherando outlasts James Wood in 10-inning baseball clash

By JERRY HOLSWORTH | Special to The Winchester Star

STEPHENS CITY — It’s not often that a groundout to second is the key play in a baseball game, but that is exactly what happened Wednesday when Sherando hosted James Wood.

With one out in the bottom of the 10th, pinch hitter A.J. Wunder grounded to second with the bases loaded. The second baseman touched second base as he fielded the ball for a forceout, but at that point Pearce Bucher was steps away from crossing home plate from third to give the Warriors a 7-6 Northwestern District victory.

Wunder’s game-winning out concluded a game filled with changing fortunes as Sherando (14-4, 5-1 district) jumped ahead early, then lost the lead in a big six-run fourth inning by the Colonels (7-10, 1-4).

Sherando jumped on Wood in its half of the first, connecting on three hits to pull ahead 4-0.

After Frank Ritter III walked to begin the inning, Bucher drove him home with a towering double to right. Bucher scored later on a groundout by Ravyn Rouse.

Brent Bodenschatz finished the scoring in he first for the Warriors when he drove in Myles McPartland and Hunter Entsminger with a double to right, giving Sherando what seemed like a comfortable 4-0 lead.

Entsminger, who started the game on the mound for the Warriors, kept Wood at bay through three innings, allowing no runs on two hits. But when Michael Usa replaced him in relief to begin the fourth, the Colonels exploded for six runs.

Usa gave up a walk and four consecutive hits to the first five Wood batters, which resulted in three runs for the Colonels. A pair of errors by the Warrior defense resulted in three more Wood runs, giving the Colonels a surprising 6-4 lead.

From that point on, however, Usa pitched flawlessly, allowing just two hits and no runs through the next 62/3 innings. He also registered seven strikeouts and just one walk.

While Usa was shutting down the Colonel bats, Sherando’s offense scored a pair of runs in the fourth and fifth innings to knot the score.

Tad Dean got things started for Sherando in the bottom of the fourth, advancing to first on a one-out single to right center. Ritter followed with a double down the right-field line that sent Dean to third, and Adam Miller drove him home with a sacrifice fly to right.

McPartland led off the fifth with a double to left, and Bodenschatz drove him home with another double to left that tied the score 6-6.

From that point until the tenth inning both teams’ bats went silent. Sherando, thanks to the pitching of Trenton Campbell and reliever Brady Renner, went in order over the next five innings.

Wood wasn’t much better, producing just two hits over their next five innings.

The Colonels did threaten in the top of the tenth, putting runners on first and second thanks to back-to-back hits by Sam Ellingsworth and Renner. But Dean, who replaced Usa after two batters in the inning, struck out Tyler Matthews to end the threat.