Cole Leneschmidt said that Friday night was all about “having fun”.
From his very first warmup tosses, it was evident that the moment would not be too much for the senior righthander as he guided Millbrook’s Baseball team to its fourth straight victory, a 6-2 win over first place Heritage.
Leneschmidt missed high out of the zone during his opening warmup, prompting lots chatter from the visiting side. After a quick glance towards its dugout, and an ear-to-ear grin, Leneschmidt proceeded to record 11 of his 16 outs via strike out.
Millbrook came out of the gates hot as Leneschmidt struck out two in a scoreless top half of the first. Tyler Snead brought the capacity crowd up an octave by leading off the Wildcat first with a hard hit ball to right center field that would bounce in-and-out of the glove of a diving Branden Kunz, allowing Snead to motor around to third for a triple.
Cal Teachey sent the next Tyler Driver pitch into right for an RBI single to break the ice at 1-0. Two of the next three batters would be hit by a pitch to load the bases for Justin Wilcoxen. Wilcoxen punished a ball into right field to score Teachey, and with two outs in the inning, Doug Bell snuck one through the left side scoring Will Gamble to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead through one.
After sending all nine batters to the plate in the first, Millbrook followed a 1-2-3 second from Leneschmidt with another crooked number in the second inning.
Teachey kicked things off with a one-out single to left, he stole second base, and Gamble took a second pitch to the side in as many at bats. Dominic Rodts plated Teachey on a two-out infield single, then Wilcoxen kept the two-out rally alive with a base hit to left, ending Driver’s night, and giving Millbrook 5-0 advantage at the conclusion of two.
Heritage had its best chance of the night in the top half of the third inning. Max Ruskie, and Cam O’Brien started the stanza with base hits. Leneschmidt struck out Christian Starestina before watching Trent Harris load the bases with a perfectly executed bunt.
With the heart of the Husky order due, Leneschmidt danced out of danger by getting Thayer Thomas to slap into a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play.
Cyrus Waters Jr. kept momentum in Millbrook’s favor with a one-out triple to deep right field to start the bottom of the third. Head coach, Austin James would reach into his bag of tricks for the team’s sixth run as Snead scored Waters Jr. a batter later on a suicide squeeze for the 6-0 lead.
“In the heat of the moment, I don’t think you realize how big of a deal that it is to have your offense back you up with six runs early” said Leneschmidt, “As the game went on, I continued to get more, and more comfortable knowing that I had a good lead to protect.”
Leneschmidt found a groove in innings four, and five recording five of the six outs on strike three. In the process, Heritage was able to draw a walk, and string together a pair of base hits that would narrow the gap to 6-1.
Vito Patierno got on via catcher’s interference to start the top of the Heritage sixth. Leneschmidt followed by making Kunz his eleventh strike out victim of the night, then he would exit the game for precautionary reasons after coming down lame on his leg following a walk to Drake Thomas.
Leneschmidt, who has lost his previous three starts by one run went 5.1 innings, allowing four hits or less for the third time this season, he lowered his ERA to 2.03, and he recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts.
Christian Miller followed in relief, and picked up where Leneschmidt left off with strikeouts of Ruskie, and Ricky Person Jr. to end the sixth.
Miller came back out for the seventh, and sandwiched a fly out to right between allowing a pair of runners to reach base. With one out in the inning, Seth Werner took the hill to shut the door on the Huskies, getting Thayer Thomas to sky out, and after Patierno brought home a run on a dropped pop up, Greg Strickland squeezed a sinking liner at short for the win
During the span of Millbrook’s four consecutive victories, the Wildcats’ are outscoring its opponents 25-5, and its starting pitchers have recorded all but five outs.
“Our pitchers have done a great job setting the tone during this stretch, and I think a lot of credit has to go to Dennis [Delgado] for his work behind the plate. When your starters only walk eight guys during the stretch of four games, you’re going to be in a good position to succeed” said James.
Millbrook moves to 6-4 with the win, and its now a half game behind Heritage, and Leesville Road in the conference standings with a 3-1 record. The Wildcats will continue to truck through the heart of conference play on Tuesday when it travels to Leesville Road to face the Pride (6-4, 4-1) at 4:30 PM.