Eagles Rock HHS
Brown Key In 12-1 Victory
ELKTON – In already surpassing its win total from the 2013 season, disciplined defense and sound pitching have been the keys to the Harrisonburg High School baseball team’s grind back to relevance.
Blue Streaks coach Kevin Tysinger needed to remind himself of that after East Rockingham’s blazing speed on the base pads delivered a major blow to HHS’s early-season confidence rebuilding Wednesday night.
The Eagles converted all four of Harrisonburg’s errors into runs, scored twice more on wild pitches and had eight of their nine starters record a hit en route to a 12-1 five-inning, slaughter-rule victory.
“Any time you have speed, it really puts pressure on the defense to make them make plays,” said senior center fielder Bret Reel, whose two-strike, two-RBI double ignited East Rock’s five-run surge in the third. “It’s hard, when you have a guy running full speed to first and you gotta get that ball out of your hand a little faster. It makes it a little bit tougher.”
It was truly a team win for the equal-opportunity Eagles, whose starting pitcher – junior Noah Brown – scattered three hits over five innings of work to improve to 5-0 this season. The only starter for ERHS (11-1) not to tally a hit – right fielder Chase Comer – still contributed a pair of RBI sacrifice flies.
“This is a really good ball club, and you can’t just show up to the ball game expecting a team to lay down for you,” said HHS coach Kevin Tysinger, whose team fell to 6-3. “We haven’t beaten the pants off anybody, but we’ve definitely won some good ball games lately – but you have to show up and play every time and we did not tonight, at all.”
Trailing 7-0 entering the top of the fourth, the Blue Streaks capitalized on back-to-back East Rock errors to net their lone score of the game before loading the bases with no outs. That’s when Brown was at his best Wednesday. He induced Khalil Marcum and Sam Imeson into a pair of forceouts, sandwiching a strikeout of pinch hitter Benjamin Hill in between, to limit the damage to just one run.
“I felt like this was the best he had thrown for us all year,” East Rock coach David Scott said. “He came out and really set a tone early in the game. [He] was throwing a lot of strikes and the one jam he got into, I’m not so sure that was his fault. And he worked his way right out of it, too.”
In the bottom half of the frame, Harrisonburg could have escaped down 9-1 but Marcum committed the Blue Streaks’ fourth and final error of the night when he dropped an infield pop fly that would have ended the inning. East Rock’s next batter, pinch hitter Eriq Jackson, shot a liner into the right-center gap – getting past outfielder Cade Templeton in what was a forgettable outing for the standout freshman – and the double gave ERHS the 10-run advantage it was looking for on a chilly night in Elkton.
“I was like, ‘Let’s get these ten runs, and let’s go home,’” Reel said with a laugh.
Brown then struck out two of the three hitters he faced in the fifth to clinch the victory.
“We know a lot of [Harrisonburg’s] players, so it’s fun beating people you know,” said East Rock senior first baseman Travis Lugar, who reached in all three of his plate appearances despite competing with a tender bruise around his left eye – courtesy of misjudging a short hop throw during Tuesday’s practice. “But I give it to ‘em: they’re a real good team. We wanted to come in here and beat a bigger school.”
Harrisonburg 000 10 – 1 3 4
East Rock 115 5x – 12 11 2
Kiser, Wise (4) and Jackson; Brown and Hensley. W – Brown (5-0). L – Kiser (0-2).