By TOM BRAGG
DAILY MAIL SPORTSWRITER
HURRICANE -- Hurricane has made a habit of starting slow recently, but fortunately for the Redskins and coach Brian Sutphin, finishing has not been a problem.
The Redskins, No. 1 in the Charleston Daily Mail sportswriters’ Class AAA prep baseball poll, rallied Wednesday in the late innings for a 6-5 win against No. 5 Nitro. Hurricane trailed the entire game but won when senior Austin Hensley slapped an RBI single off Nitro’s Solomon Shamblin to score Tate Brock and break a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“We were sloppy,” Sutphin said. “We did not play crisp. We played five out of the last six days and you’re kind of expecting to play a little better.”
Nitro (8-1) got off to a fast start in the first inning. Shamblin reached base on the first pitch of the game when Hurricane starter J.T. Rogoszewski hit him with a pitch and later scored. Dylan Slack reached later in the inning on an error before Ryan McDonough hit a two-run home run to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead.
Hurricane got one run back in its half of the first before Nitro answered with a towering Eddie Flores solo home run in the second to extend its lead to 4-1. After that, however, Rogoszewski appeared to settle down and start missing the Wildcat bats.
“I thought (Rogoszewski) made some adjustments,” Sutphin said. “I thought he was throwing pretty well but they laid some good swings early. A lot of that was self-induced. We got the hit by pitch, we get an error on a ground ball and then a blast and it’s three runs on one ball hit on the barrel.”
Nitro starter Kip Brewer also settled down after allowing the early run, pitching scoreless baseball in the second, third and fourth innings. Hurricane cut the lead to 4-2 in the fifth when Rogoszewski slapped an RBI single to score senior Zach Pate.
“The first inning he was a little nervous or getting used to the mound,” Nitro coach Steve Pritchard said. “I don’t think he was nervous, he’s pitched in a state championship game. I don’t think a regular season game at Hurricane is going to be a reason to get nervous, but (after the first inning) he threw real well.”
McDonough came on in relief of Brewer in the sixth inning and allowed two runs, both coming on wild pitches. Shamblin, a junior, took over on the mound with a three-ball count on Pate in the sixth after the damage had been done and would get out of the inning one batter later. It was Shamblin’s first appearance as a pitcher during his high school career, Pritchard said.
Rogoszewski opened the Hurricane half of the seventh inning by reaching on a walk. Brock appeared to have ended the game with a shot two batters later, however the ball hit high on the wall in left-center field to score Rogoszewski and tie the game. Alex Estep and Brandon Pauley followed with walks before Hensley ended it with a single down the third base line that Nitro’s Matt Harrison could not handle.
“It wasn’t a matter where we lost,” Pritchard said. “We just gave them a win. We found ways to screw things up -- whether it be the second baseman skipping, not getting a bunt down, walking the leadoff hitter, not finding the wall – it just seemed like whatever could go wrong went wrong.
“Bottom line is if Nitro isn’t on our schedule I feel pretty good about anybody we play. I think Nitro got beat by Nitro tonight. Hurricane’s got a nice team. They’re a good team and they gave us some runs too, it isn’t one-sided, but four of our runs came over the fence and we gave them more runs than they gave us. Hopefully we’re good enough to see these guys again down the road.”
For Hurricane, Alexander Dunham went 2-for-4 with a triple. For Nitro, sophomore catcher Matt Jewell finished 2-for-3 with two singles. It wasn’t a matter where we lost. We just gave them a win. WE found ways to screw things up, whether it be the second baseman skipping, not getting a bunt down, walking the leadoff hitter, not finding the wall – it just seemed like whatever could go wrong went wrong.
Bottom line is if Nitro isn’t on our schedule I feel pretty good about anybody we play. I think Nitro got beat by Nitro tonight. Hurricane’s got a nice team. They’re a good team and they gave us some runs too, it isn’t one-sided, but four of our runs came over the fence and we gave them more runs than they gave us. Hopefully we’re good enough to see these guys again down the road.
Nitro’s next game is scheduled for Friday at Class AA Wayne. Hurricane is scheduled to host Lincoln County on Friday.
Contact sportswriter Tom Bragg at email@example.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports.