By Zach Baker
BASCOM – Hopewell-Loudon coach Justin Gunka didn’t give a complicated analysis of why Garret Sendelbach was so effective Friday against Mohawk hitters.
To the first-year mentor, it was simple.
“He came out and threw strikes,” Gunka said. “That’s how you win baseball games.”
But no less impressive.
Sendelbach allowed the Warriors just a run on three hits, and struck out 13 in a complete game as the Chieftains won, 5-1.
“My stuff was working good today, and I was just relying on my defense behind me, and it was really good,” Sendelbach said.
Mohawk’s only run came in the fourth inning. After H-L had taken a 1-0 lead on back-to-back doubles by Bryan Scherger and Tyler Imes, Mohawk came back when Derrick Sowers doubled down the left field line, and two batters later, Grant Gucker hit an RBI double to deep right center.
But Sendelbach got two strikeouts to end the inning and keep the game tied.
“(Sendelbach) is really good, there’s just no doubt,” said Mohawk coach Eric Hoover. “He’s one of the best pitchers in the league. He probably throws as hard or harder than anyone we’ve seen this year. He has great control; he threw a lot of strikes, and we just couldn’t catch up to it, couldn’t get the bat on the ball.”
Hopewell-Loudon (9-7, 3-1 Midland Athletic League) got the lead back in the bottom of the fourth, when Ryan Steinmetz hit an RBI single and Jackson Sebetto hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. The Chieftains added two more runs in the fifth on RBI singles by Logan Tyree and Scherger.
“I’m very pleased with how we played as a team and came out and hit today,” Gunka said.
Austin Harper pitched the whole game and took the loss for the Warriors. While he allowed five runs, all earned, he was the victim of some bad luck. He gave up a number of well-placed infield hits, struck out two and didn’t walking a batter.
“He threw well,” Hoover said. “He’s young, and they’re a good hitting team. They got some in the gaps and got some extra bases, but I couldn’t complain about the outing he gave us; that’s for sure.”
Hoover wasn’t thrilled with his team’s baserunning. Twice, the Warriors (5-6, 2-2) lined into double plays.
“We’ve got to continue to hit the ball hard, and we’ve got to be a little smarter on the bases,” he said. “We can’t run ourselves out of innings like we did a couple times, where we have opportunities to maybe rattle them a little bit.”