June 28 - Aiden Willard scored twice and had two RBI while Patrick Whittingham pitched four scoreless innings in relief for the NOVA Premier in a 8-1 win over the Hillcats Prime 16u last night at Westfield High School.
Willard displayed patience at the plate, walking three times, including once with the bases loaded. “I started off most innings with no one on-base, so I just wanted to get things going and took pitches until I got something to hit,” he said.
Willard also had two steals, drove in a run in the sixth inning with a ground ball and pitched a scoreless seventh to close the game.
“[Aiden] obviously didn’t get a whole lot to hit tonight with three walks but when he gets the opportunity he puts the ball in play,” said Premier coach Brett Johnson. “With a runner on third, he gave us just what we needed to get the run home [with the ground ball].”
Whittingham came on in relief of starter Braden Huebsch, who allowed a first inning run on an RBI from Rohan Cherukuri, but then retired the side in order in the second. The right-hander proceeded to work out of a self-induced bases loaded jam with back-to-back strikeouts and then retired nine of his next 10 batters.
“[Patrick] does a good job of throwing strikes and pitching to contact, which is what we need,” Johnson said.
After Hillcats starting pitcher Jack O’Grady threw two scoreless innings, the Premier sent 10 men to the plate and rallied for four runs in the third inning. Willard, Whittingham and Clayton Long each had RBI after walking with the bases loaded, then Willard came around to score on an error.
The Hillcats used four different relievers after O’Grady. Sam Phelps, Cam Mounts and Mike Held combined to allow seven earned runs in three relief innings while Wes Alexander threw a scoreless fourth. Cherukuri and Sean Quinn had the only hits for the Hillcats’ offense.
The Premier added three more runs in the fifth on an RBI single from Will Tinston, who later scored on an error, and a balk that allowed Long to score. Cameron Kerr and Ryan Hodinko each had two hits and combined for three runs at the plate for the Premier. Hodinko’s towering double to left-center field was the only extra base hit in the game.
“We have one of our bigger tournaments of the year next weekend so hopefully we can keep this momentum going,” Johnson said.
The Premier will be in action next in a tournament in Durham, N.C. on July 7 while the Hillcats will play next against the Bradley Eagles at Falls Church High School on Tuesday.
Left to Right: Aiden Willard scored twice and had two RBI while Patrick Whittingham pitched four scoreless innings in relief in a 8-1 win for the Premier. Photos by Josh Belanger.