Rookie Helps Streaks Win, 5-3
HARRISONBURG — Cade Templeton made the Harrisonburg High School varsity baseball team because he’s a smooth center fielder. But as the season went on, the freshman boosted his worth by becoming an effective relief pitcher. Eventually, he made the Blue Streaks’ starting rotation.
“We knew that he could play and run down the ball in center field with the best of them,” HHS coach Kevin Tysinger said. “We figured hitting would come along later. He’s started to hit the ball a lot better, but as far as pitching, we figured we’d probably use him in the bullpen — long relief or something — and with what he’s shown us, we’ve just got really comfortable putting him out there.”
So comfortable that Tysinger started the rookie in the Conference 23 tournament opener Monday.
It was a good pick.
The 16-year-old left-hander tossed 5 2/3 innings and gave up three runs while the third-seeded Streaks used four errors by No. 6 and winless Charlottesville en route to a 5-3 victory and a berth in the C-23 semifinals.
HHS (9-9) will play at No. 2 Louisa on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
“He pounded the strike zone,” Charlottesville coach Bobby Humphrey said of Templeton. “For a freshman, he attacked the zone. He pitched to contact very well, which you’re supposed to do. … As a freshman, that kid has an outstanding future, so all the credit to him.”
Templeton (3-2) rolled through the first five innings. He was perfect through the first two before the Black Knights (0-18) got runners on first and third with two outs. Templeton got out of it when he picked off the runner on first.
In the fourth, Templeton again eluded trouble, this time thanks to HHS’s defense. CHS’s Banks Northington tripled to right field with Manning Turkheimer on first. Turkheimer tried to score, but HHS shortstop Christian Whitelow threw out Turkheimer at home plate off a relay throw from right fielder Matt Shifflett. HHS catcher Chris Whitelow also made a nice tag on the play, sticking with Turkheimer, who avoided Chris Whitelow’s initial effort.
Templeton — who doesn’t throw very hard but compensates with a slow, swooping curveball and locating his two-seam and four-seam fastballs — got the Black Knights 1-2-3 in the fifth before tiring in the sixth, allowing all three of his runs in that inning.
“I think it’s just from working at practice. I’ve just gotten better with the drills we’ve done,” said Templeton when asked how he worked his way from center field to the rotation. “… I’m a little bit more experienced from being a reliever, and having to come in during tough situations has helped me get a little better on the varsity level.”
Only one of Harrisonburg’s runs was earned, and the Streaks never trailed, going up 1-0 in the first inning on a sacrifice fly from Sam Imeson, who also earned the save.
HHS added three runs in the fifth when pinch-hitter Ben Hill turned a bunt into an infield single before colliding with Charlottesville second baseman Colin Davis, who was covering first on the play. Davis left the game with what Humphrey described as a “ringer.” Humphrey said Davis was fine, but two runs scored on the play. Hill, a linebacker on HHS’s football team, later scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0 and give the Streaks a cushion for CHS’s three-run sixth.
“All I’m thinking about is hustling it out,” Hill said of the bunt. “I put my head down and started running, and the next thing I know, I see the play and I’m like, ‘Here comes the throw,’ and the kid gets the throw, and he starts going into my lane, and I’m like, ‘Oh no.’ Coach tells me to hustle through, so I’m going to hustle through, and he was there, and we just collided.”
Charlottesville 000 003 0 – 3 8 4
Harrisonburg 100 031 x – 5 6 0
Wright and Finke; Templeton, Marcum (6), Imeson (7) and Chris Whitelow. W – Templeton (3-2). L – Wright (NA). Sv – Imeson (1).