Unleash the Beast: Heinlein, Hawks shell Trojans, end 4-game skid

BLAIRSBURG – Lane Heinlein works at two speeds on the mound: Fast and faster.

Wind up. Throw. Catch. Repeat.

It’s that simple. It’s quite effective, too.

“Coach (Bret Bell) doesn’t like me to get in my own head, so I just like to get up there and throw and just think next pitch, next pitch, next pitch,” Heinlein said yesterday evening after a sparking complete-game performance in South Hamilton’s 13-0, 6-inning win over Hamilton County rival Northeast Hamilton.

The right-handed ace of the Hawks’ staff painted the strike zone throughout en route to 14 strikeouts against just three walks. Northeast Hamilton managed to connect for only four hits, and the Trojans were caught looking at three called third strikes.

Heinlein’s ability to hit every corner of the strike zone with his fastball and curve gave NEH fits. Heinlein turned to a smorgasbord of fastballs by the middle innings; he struck out seven in the fourth, fifth and sixth frames and ended the game with another.

“We started out with fastball and curve, but then we just started throwing the fastball because they weren’t really touching it,” Heinlein, who has fanned 27 in his last 14 innings of work, said. “And it helps to have a good defense behind you. I just throw it and the guys behind me are making the plays.”

South Hamilton (3-5) ended a four-game slide by lashing 10 hits and being aggressive on the base paths with 10 swipes. Seven players recorded at least one hit, eight scored at least one run, seven collected one or more RBIs, and seven jumped into the stolen base fray.

The Hawks led 6-0 after five innings then turned out the lights with a seven-run sixth.

NEH starting pitcher Nick Jeffers made his varsity debut on the mound; he worked into the fourth inning, but his inexperience at holding runners on showed. The Hawks stole six bases when he was on the hill.

“If they’re going to give us the base, we’re going to take it,” Bell said. “That’s just how we play – aggressive.”

Jeffers and reliever Andy Pate – also pitching at the varsity level for the first time – combined to give up four hits and five earned runs. Jeffers walked six, Pate one.

“I thought those two guys did outstanding,” NEH head coach Chace Pruismann said. “But (South Hamilton) is tough. They were good.”

Pate gave up a one-out hit to JD Rader and walked Justin Shepherd in the sixth before handing the ball off to Logan Seiser, who had no fun the rest of the inning.

John Hegland, Heinlein, Lucas Olson, Josh Doering, Trevor Ullestad and Landon Quam delivered consecutive singles to open the floodgate. Heinlein drove in two runs with his liner to right; Hegland, Doering, Ullestad and Quam all plated one run each with their base knocks.

“It’s a game of adjustments and we didn’t do a good job of adjusting (at the plate) early,” Bell said. “But I was happy to see when (Seiser) came in that we hit the ball pretty well.”

Five of South Hamilton’s hits – including Heinlein’s fourth-inning RBI triple – landed in right field. Going to the opposite field is something Bell stresses, and yesterday his players heeded his advice.

“That’s our approach, to sit back and look for the fastball away and drive it to (the right) side,” Bell said.

Heinlein, Ullestad and Quam all finished with two hits. Heinlein added three RBIs and two stolen bases out of the clean-up spot.

Andy Pate and Stephen Chamness accounted for all of the NEH offense. Pate laced singles in the first and third innings; Chamness beat out an infield single in the second and launched a double down the left-field line to lead off the sixth.

But the Trojans were unable to cash in on their chances. They left nine men on base, seven in scoring position, but Heinlein’s composure was a big reason why the Trojans came up empty time and time again. He struck out the final batter in three innings when NEH had runners at second and third.