SANDY SPRING – Thanks to an eight-run sixth inning, the Damascus Swarmin' Hornets (11-3) powered past rival Sherwood Warriors (14-3) Saturday afternoon at Sherwood High School to win 8-1, ending the Warriors’ 13-game winning streak.
“Not very often especially against a team like Sherwood,” said Hornets head coach Greg Blake of the eight-run inning. “We had opportunities all day long, and finally we broke through, which was a great thing for us. But not very often do you have an eight-run inning against a ball club like that.”
“They got the momentum on their side,” said Warriors head coach Sean Davis. “Then the inning snowballed. They did what they had to do. They got some big hits. We had to bring the infield in. So, they squirted some through. They did what they had to do in that inning. But I talked to my guys. More disappointed with our first six because baseball happens, and they put a crooked number on the board. A done deal after that.”
The sixth inning was the key for this Hornets squad. Hornets senior Eric Lansinger (1-4, r, 2 sb) led off the inning with a bunt single against Sherwood’s senior relief pitcher Philip Wugalter. The bunt was all Lansinger’s decision. Head coach Greg Blake said, “I have to give credit all to Eric. He knows he has the green light to do a lot of things, and that’s all him. I didn’t call it. That’s all him.”
“I had been thinking about dropping a bunt down the entire at-bat”, said Lansinger. “After I saw that first curveball I took a peek at the third baseman and saw he was quite a way off third. I figured lefty-on-lefty situation. You know, try to drop the bunt down. He had his hands on me. Dropped a good bunt down.”
Lansinger stole second. Lansinger said of the steal and bunt, “I was thinking ahead, trying to get to second base as soon as possible, knowing we had the meat of our order up.”
Lansinger advanced to third on junior Tyler Retherford’s (1-4, r) single.
“We were down 1-0, and I think before the game and yesterday our coach is always elaborating on staying in the box. And that’s what I did,” said Kline of the hit-by-pitch. “He was throwing kind of hard. And we needed base runners. That all we talked about.”
Damascus junior pitcher Connor Manion (1-4, r) singled to right to tie the game at 1. “Wugalter threw me outside. I think I had two strikes on me. I took it the other way. He threw it outside. I was just ecstatic,” said Manion.
Damascus senior Grant Buttrey (1-4, r, 2b) reached on an error by the shortstop, getting the Hornets to a 2-1 lead. This opened the flood gates as six more runs would be scored by the Hornets. For the Hornets, such an outburst was a welcome sign for a team that has struggled in the past against the Warriors.
“We were patient. We found a couple of hits. We found earlier in the game we were trying to lift it too much, and finally when just focused on simple base hits. That’s when things opened up for us,” said Blake.
For Wugalter, he had relieved sophomore starting pitcher Ben Vok with runners on first and second in the top of fifth. Sherwood senior center fielder Alex Goldberg (0-2, 2 bb) picked Damascus junior Bradley Moyer (1-3, r, bb) off second. Wugalter struck out Damascus junior Mitchell Kline (0-3) while senior Eric Westzleff (0-3, r) grounded out to third, ending the Hornets threat.
For the Warriors, their scoring came in the first inning. Sherwood senior John Ervin (1-3, r, bb) scored on Josh Selis’ (3-4, 2b, rbi) two-out double.
In the bottom of the third, the Warriors loaded the bases with one out. Manion struck out Sherwood junior Bradshaw Steeley (0-4). Then senior Cush Desari (1-3) grounded out to third, ending the Warriors’ attempted rally.
“Connor’s a warrior, and he wanted to stay out there for one more inning. But we had a game plan, and we stuck with it. Connor’s a heck of a ball player. A heck of a pitcher. And he feels confident with all four of his pitches. It’s a huge advantage having that confidence in your pitcher,” said Blake.
“I just got to do all I can do to prevent them from getting hits. My curveball, slider. Just keep them off balance,” said Manion.
Westzleff picked up the win for the Hornets. Wugalter took the loss. For Vok, he worked four innings of no-hit ball.
The Hornets, for all their good fortunes, could only manage one extra base hit against the Warriors.
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