By David Wagner
The Western Albemarle varsity baseball team has reeled off 10 straight wins to start the season, posting a perfect mark of 10-0 overall and 6-0 in the Jefferson District. Six of the wins have been decided by the 10-run mercy rule and the Warriors have won nine of the games by five or more runs. The Warriors have outscored their opponents 111-15, averaging just over 11 runs per game, while allowing only 1.5 per game.
The only team to really test the Warriors so far is Monticello. On April 17 at Monticello High School, the Mustangs and Warriors delighted the crowd with an old-school 1-0 pitchers’ dual. Western’s Jack Maynard pitched a three-hit, 12-strikeout gem of a game to shut out the Mustangs and earn his fifth win of the season. Dylan Weiss got the game-winning RBI on Western’s only hit of the game, driving in Sam Hearn on a single to right field in the top of the sixth inning.
Warrior bats have been phenomenal, posting a staggering .423 batting average with 124 hits. Eight of the nine starters are batting .400 or better and four of the nine are hitting at .455 or higher. Junior Steve Mangrum is leading the way at the plate for the Warriors with 17 hits in 34 at-bats for a .500 batting average. He also has six extra base hits (four doubles and two triples), 15 runs scored, seven stolen bases and 14 RBI. Senior Logan Ebanks is third on the team in hitting with a .462 average, totaling 12 hits, three doubles, 11 runs scored and 10 RBI. Ebanks has also played solid defense in the outfield, committing no errors so far this season.
Sophomore outfielder Henry Kreinenbaum is batting .469. Kreinenbaum is a bright young star for Western on a veteran team. He has 15 hits, 16 runs, two doubles, a triple, four stolen bases and 12 RBI. Junior John Casteen has 10 hits (one home run), 9 runs and 10 RBI with a .455 average. Junior Harrison Lund is hitting a .448 clip with 13 hits, 3 doubles, two triples, a stolen base, 9 runs and 7 RBI. Senior pitcher/catcher Jack Maynard is hitting .417 with 15 hits, four doubles, one home run, two runs scored, 18 RBI and only one strikeout in 36 at bats. Junior shortstop Weiss has a .412 average with 14 hits, 12 runs scored and 10 RBI. Senior infielder/pitcher Eli Sumpter is hitting .333 with 11 hits, 13 runs, two stolen bases and six RBI. And senior John Mark Mastakas is batting an even .400 with 12 hits, 11 runs, five doubles, a triple, six hit-by-pitch and 9 RBI with only two strikeouts in 30 at bats.
The Warrior pitching staff has been just as impressive with a gaudy team ERA of 0.55. They’ve given up only five earned runs in 10 games and opponents are hitting only.146 against the Warriors. Maynard and Sumpter, along with sophomore Hearn, have pitched 55 1/3 of the 64 innings. Maynard has been the ace of the staff and the workhorse, pitching 29 1/3 innings with a 0.48 ERA. He has 34 strikeouts, five walks, and has surrendered only 15 hits. He has pitched four complete games en route to a 5-0 record. Hearn has thrown 15 1/3 innings and has a perfect ERA of 0.00. Hearn has struck out 12, walked only three and given up 8 hits with one complete game and three wins. Sumpter has pitched well in 10 and 2/3 innings with 11 strikeouts, three walks, 7 hits allowed, one win and a 1.97 ERA. As a staff, the Warriors strikeout-to-walk ratio is better than 4 to1. They’ve allowed only 31 hits in 64 innings and have a strike-to-ball ratio of about 2 to 1, having thrown 572 strikes to only 291 balls. The only potential problem for this staff would be the number of unearned runs allowed by the Warriors in 2014. They’ve given up a total of 10 as a team, which translates to one every game, while they’ve given an earned run just every other game (five earned runs in 10 games).
If the Warriors continue to hit and pitch as they are, this team has the potential to go deep in the playoffs. They’re at the mid-point of the season and playing exceptionally well. Fluvanna is the only district opponent they haven’t played yet, and Powhatan and Monticello are the only teams that have really given them a game so far (Western beat Powhatan 10-5). The rematches of both those games will be in Crozet.
Head coach Skip Hudgins has a talented, veteran squad that is hungry and knows how to play the game. It’s going to be an exciting stretch run for the Warriors as they look to make a mark on Western Albemarle baseball history.
They have five remaining home games on the schedule: May 6 at 6 p.m. vs Albemarle; May 13 at 6 p.m. vs Monticello; May 15 at 6 p.m. vs Charlottesville; May 20 at 6 p.m. vs Powhatan; and a make-up game versus Fluvanna on a date not yet set. All home games are played at the field adjoining Brownsville Elementary School.