By BRIAN LESTER
HAMLER — Kollin Spence still had a little swelling around his eye and a cut below it.
But the lingering pain from taking a ball in the face in an attempt to field a hard-hit baseball a day earlier wasn’t going to stop the Patrick Henry senior from pitching on Friday. Not with a trip to the state tournament on the line.
Spence is the perfect example of toughness. And while his day didn’t go as he had hoped, the Patriots were waxed 14-0 in five innings by Tinora in a Division IV regional championship game at Garrold Parratt Field, Spence never thought twice about being out there with his teammates.
“You just have to get back out there and forget it happened,” Spence said of the injury. “You have to have a short-term memory. Going out there, I felt good. I was ready.”
What he wasn’t ready for was the offensive avalanche the Rams dished out. Tinora (22-4) racked up 17 hits en route to a game shortened by the run rule. Four Rams tallied two or more hits as they ended the stellar tourney run for the Patriots (21-10) and moved on to the state tournament.
“They have a great team all around,” Spence said. “They were stroking the ball today. There isn’t a whole lot you can do about that.”
Spence lasted three innings, allowing six runs on eight hits. The second inning proved to be the turning point as the Rams scored five runs to stretch their lead to 6-0.
The dagger shot was a two-run home run by Logan Bailey, who crushed the ball over the wall in left.
“That inning pushed the water over the dam,” Patrick Henry head coach Shawn Sunderman said.
The top of the lineup did most of the damage for the Rams. Tinora’s top four hitters were 13-for-15 at the plate, with Reid Renollet ringing up four hits, including three doubles.
Derek Drewes racked up three hits, including a two-run double in the fourth that pushed the Tinora lead to 9-0. The Rams led 10-0 after four innings.
“You just have to stand back and tip your hat to them,” Sunderman said.
Not only to the Rams’ hitters, but to their pitcher as well. Renollet worked four innings and allowed only two hits. He struck out five.
“He threw the ball well,” Sunderman said. “He mixed up his speeds, inside and outside. He did a great job.”
Tinora head coach Brent Renollet wasn’t surprised by his team’s effort.
“Our guys got the job done. That is what we expected of them ,” Renollet said. “Reid is a gamer and pitched well. He had only pitched six innings going into today. We tried to save him all year for this moment.”
Spence finished with two of the Patriots’ four hits on a day when the Patriots simply couldn’t string together hits to spark a rally.
“Kolin is a competitor,” Sunderman said. “He gave a good effort.”
Patrick Henry had two runners on in the first and third innings but never cashed in.
But while its season didn’t end the way it had hoped, the Patriots were gunning for their first state championship since winning back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009, Sunderman was proud of what is team accomplished this year.
“Nobody gave us a chance this year,” Sunderman said. “We were picked fourth in our league. We had a great year. I’m proud of the guys. They were determined this season and gave a heck of an effort.”
Spence, one of six seniors on the roster, is proud of the season as well. Sure, it hurts to fall short of the ultimate goal of a state title, but an appearance in the regional final is still a big deal.
“We exceeded expectations and got to a place we can be proud of,” Spence said. “Although we fell short, it was a good season for us. It’s something we’ll look back on as being a big accomplishment.”
Tinora 150 44 — 14 17 1
Patrick Henry 000 00 — 0 4 3
WP — Renollet. LP — Spence. top hitters: (Tin) Renollet 3-2B, 1B, RBI; Pittman 2-2B, 1B, 2 RBI; Drewes 2-1B, 2B, 2 RBI; Bailey HR, 2 RBI. (PH) Spence 2B, 1B.