By Owen Gotimer
Leesburg (May 20, 2015) – In one of the most open conference tournaments of the spring, No. 5 Dominion High School traveled to No. 4 Heritage High School on May 19 for the opening round of the Conference 21 baseball tournament, where Titan senior ace Justin Traenkle settled in after a two-hit first inning, to cruise to a, 2-0, win by way of a four-hit, complete game shutout.
“My curveball was working really well; I used a lot of offspeed to keep them off balance,” Traenkle said. “The defense was making plays. I don’t think we had a single error tonight which was really good.”
After Traenkle escaped a first and third situation in the first inning, Dominion gave their pitcher all the run support he would need in the top of the second when sophomore right fielder Evan Slebrch laced an RBI double over the head of Heritage right fielder Matt Lannes, driving in Traenkle.
“It all starts before the game. I was getting some good hacks during [batting practice],” Slebrch said. “I stepped into the box and had some good feelings. Today was my day. I saw the ball well and was able to drive it.”
Slebrch followed his second-inning RBI double, with a one-out double in the seventh before he scored on an RBI single by senior first baseman Josh Daitzman.
“[Slebrch] was able to relax a little bit tonight unlike he has been in the past few games. The confidence level was up,” Dominion head coach Jeff Berg said. “I think the first hit was huge for him, so he could get up there and relax the rest of the game. He’s a young guy. He’s played a lot of ball for us the last two years. Tonight, he was able to get it done for us.”
Traenkle and Slebrch were really the only two hitters who got in the way of Pride sophomore Cameron Taylor who for his second straight start threw a complete game – allowing one earned run in each – without getting any run support.
“I think the difference in the game was some mistakes we made on the bases, execution of a few different things,” Heritage head coach Ryan Price said. “We had chances with guys in scoring position, but couldn’t get the big hit. Traenkle kept us off balance today. He didn’t have an overpowering fastball, but it mixed well with his offspeed. He had some of our guys chasing down.”
The young Pride – who started six sophomores for much of the season – threatened to score in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings, but costly base running mistakes eventually led to their demise.
“There’s all the potential in the world coming back next year with that many starters returning,” Price said. “We have a young group with six starting sophomores on the field today. I’m hoping they make some big jumps from their sophomore year to junior year.”
While Price and the Pride will start to prepare for next season, Dominion has to prepare for Conference 21’s top team: No. 1 Woodgrove High School. The Titans will travel to Purcellville on Friday, May 22 to play the Wolverines in a conference semifinal.
“We had a great game against them last time. There was a lot of intensity, and we’ll be ready to bring more,” Slebrch said. “We brought a lot of intensity against Heritage, and we’re rolling right now.”
Traenkle 2-3, ROE, R
Slebrch 2-3, 2 2B, R, RBI
Daitzman 1-3, RBI
Brennan 0-3, ROE
Koehler 0-2, sac bunt
Schaub 1-3, 2B
Taylor, B. 1-3
Howard, J. 1-3
Tyree 0-1, BB
Traenkle W 7 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 2 K
Taylor L 7 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 4 K
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Syracuse University where he earned a degree in broadcast and digital journalism. Before attending SU, Owen graduated from Heritage High School in Leesburg. Follow LoCoSports on Twitter (@LoCoSports) for up-to-date news and scores from around Loudoun County.