Leesburg, Va. — When Woodgrove High School senior ace Christian Hile toed the rubber in the bottom half of the first, he knew we was in for a battle. Riverside High School senior leadoff hitter Michael Walsh made Hile earn every pitch of his first strike out of the night, fouling off four pitches in a row before going down looking on an upstairs breaking ball.
From there, Hile settled in striking out the side in the first—all looking—before cruising through the next six innings while striking out 11, as the Marshall University-commit picked up the complete game win, 4-1, over the Rams on May 12 in Leesburg.
“It’s easy when you have a team full of stars behind you, because you can pitch to contact,” Hile said. “It’s a great team win.”
Until the seventh, Hile pitched with a man on second or third just one time as Riverside sophomore left fielder KJ Johnson moved to second on a single by junior second baseman Stone Lasseigne in the fourth. Hile worked out of that jam by striking out the next two batters.
“He threw all three pitches for a strike, he didn’t walk hitters, and he made them earn everything,” Woodgrove head coach Rusty Smith said. “When he throws three pitches for a strike, he’s pretty good.”
On the flip side, Hile had a worthy adversary in ECU-commit Wyatt Shenkman, who matched Hile pretty much pitch for pitch through his five innings of work.
Woodgrove scratched two unearned runs across in the fourth inning, which would prove to be enough for Hile. With one out in the fourth, Hile reached on a dropped third strike then his courtesy runner David Rivera-Lopez quickly swiped second. Then Woodgrove senior first baseman JD Robinson hit a grounder to short, which was mishandled then thrown away allowing Rivera-Lopez to score. Two batters later, Woodgrove sophomore designated hitter Chris McCullers singled in Robinson to give the Wolverines a 2-0 lead after the fourth.
In the sixth, Hile reached safely on a hard hit ball to second base. Rivera-Lopez entered as his courtesy and moved up two bags on wild pitches before Robinson singled him in, marking the end of Shenkman’s night. Two pitching changes later, Robinson scored the Wolverines’ fourth and final run of the night on another error by the Riverside defense.
“Wyatt’s pretty good, and he kept us off balance, but we just scrapped, we got base runners, and we forced the issue,” Smith said. “We scratched across four, and when Christian looks like that, four’s all he’ll probably need.”
Hile allowed his first and only run of the game with two outs in the seventh when a pop fly fell in front of the pitcher’s mound. With a three-run lead, Hile finished out his complete game with his 11th strikeout of the night as the Wolverines improved to 5-1 in the Potomac District.
“This is probably the closest group of seniors I’ve ever had here, and I have three of probably the best leaders I’ve ever had as well,” Smith said. “All they care about is winning; they don’t care about where they’re hitting in the lineup, they just want to win with their guys.”
Woodgrove is now halfway through their season, which was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and despite the circumstances, Hile and co. are soaking in every memory.
“This is my family. I’ve been with these guys when I started playing when I was five years old,” Hile said. “It’s pretty fun to be able to come out here senior year and play one last season with these guys.”
|Christian Hile (W)||7||5||1||0||11||0|
|Wyatt Shenkman (L)||5+||3||4||0||7||1|