TA Baseball Splits Pair
Hanifee Gets His 100th Hit In 13-6 Loss
BRIDGEWATER – If anything were to shake the psyche of Turner Ashby High School’s baseball team, it would be understandable if it happened in resuming a two-run game after five complete innings when lights malfunctioned at Alleghany last week.
TA coach Sean Hanifee said the Virginia High School League has a rule that overrides the National Federation of State High School Associations in requiring such a game to be continued at a later date, unlike weather-related suspensions that are deemed final if at least 4½ innings are played.
As it turned out, the Knights won 8-6 and didn’t fall apart mentally until the second game.
Junior second baseman Eric Spraker reached base all five times in the leadoff spot without an official at-bat and scored four of Alleghany’s first seven runs as the Mountaineers managed to score nine runs on two outs in a 13-6 win Tuesday night.
“I kind of try and lean over the plate a little bit just to get in their head a little bit more,” the left-handed Spraker said.
Alleghany (5-5) withstood a 12-hit attack led by TA senior third baseman Evan Hanifee, who went 4-for-5 and was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Hanifee’s solo home run – his third of the season – cut the Knights’ deficit to 5-2 in the third inning and marked his 100th career hit. But TA (9-2) left the bases loaded in the third, fifth and seventh while stranding 11 total runners.
“With the number of guys we left on base, we could’ve scored 20,” TA coach Sean Hanifee said.
In two games against Alleghany, the Knights committed four errors after having only five through their first nine games. Shortstop Brenan Hanifee, who won the first game, had both team errors in the nightcap – the first of which extended a four-run third inning for the Mountaineers.
“From a score perspective, we were in the game the entire night,” Sean Hanifee said. “The problem is we just kept taking ourselves out of the game mentally. Every time we got something going, something happened [where] we squashed that. … The one run that scored on the error wasn’t the big deal. It was just the psyche that it created in our guys.”
Base running errors may have been even more costly for TA.
Evan Hanifee put the Knights on the board with some nifty running, snatching two bases on a sacrifice bunt and scoring on a passed ball. But TA runners were picked off base in key situations later in the game. One was thrown out at the plate in the fifth and another was tagged at third base, voiding a threat created by sophomore pitcher Eric Carter’s leadoff double in his first career plate appearance during the fourth.
“That kind of killed the momentum, as well as gave them an out,” Evan Hanifee said.
Backed by sensational catches by Trent Rust in left field and Kendall Kessinger in center, the Mountaineers took advantage of their opportunities at the plate, including seven walks (one intentional) and four hit batsmen. TA sophomore right-hander Trent Abernathy took the loss, issuing six of the 10 free passes.
“I’m proud of the way the guys swung the bats,” Alleghany coach Gary Rice said. “We got a lot of clutch hits.”
Taking a page out of Spraker’s playbook, AHS senior catcher Alex Shifflett drew a four-pitch walk in his first at-bat and was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the following inning. When he swung the bat, good things also happened. Shifflett finished 2-for-3 with five RBIs, including a single in the sixth and a three-run home run that snuck inside the left field foul pole in the seventh.
It was Shifflett’s first career homer and his first two hits of the season.
Hanifee hit leadoff for TA for the first time this spring after starting things off in every game last season for the Knights, who were a win away from meeting Alleghany in the Region III championship game and qualifying for the Group AA state tournament in 2013.
Turner Ashby 112 040 0 – 8 8 2
Alleghany 130 200 0 – 6 8 1
Ju. Showalter, B. Hanifee (2) and Warner; K. Kessinger, Kimberlin (4), Fridley (5), K. Kessinger (6) and M. Kessinger. W—Hanifee. L—Kimberlin. HR—none.
*Suspended game that resumed in the top of the 6th
Alleghany 104 113 3 – 13 13 5
Turner Ashby 101 021 1 – 6 12 2
Tremblay, Kimberlin (6) and Shifflett; Abernathy, Carter (4), Ju. Showalter (6), Je. Showalter (6) and Warner. W—Tremblay. L—Abernathy. HR—Alleghany: Shifflett (1); TA: E. Hanifee (3)