July 20 - Thomas Trinca was 3-for-4 with two triples, a home run and four RBI and Eric Bohenek recovered from a shaky start to give the North five innings as they beat the East, 11-4, in their opener at the Commonwealth Games in Lynchburg last night.
Trinca, the George Mason recruit who hit .423 with 16 extra-base hits this spring, showed his tremendous pop with three-baggers to both fields and three-run round-tripper that slammed off the scoreboard at Liberty University and pushed the North’s lead to 9-4 in the bottom of the fourth.
“I was just looking for my pitch,” Trinca said. “Just trying to get what I could get.”
Ryan Dooley (South Lakes), Ben Thomas (Potomac) and Tre Williams (South County) each added two hits and the North pounded out 15 in the nightcap of the 29th annual tournament.
After the East took a 4-0 lead on Bohenek in the top of the first, Dooley didn’t waste any time starting the comeback. The left-handed swinging Virginia Military Institute recruit singled up the middle, then came in on Trinca’s triple. The North pulled even in the second when Thomas and Williams led off with singles, moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Braden Mack (Potomac) and scored on a ground out by Griffin Boone (Forest Park) and an RBI single to left by Dooley.
“I had no doubt that we were going to hit and it was a matter of time,” North coach Mike Covington said.
Bohenek settled in, retiring 12 of the next 15 before giving way to relievers Eddie Eisert (Bishop O’Connell) and Joe Vogatsky (Kettle Run) while the North pulled away. Eisert and Vogatsky each tossed a scoreless inning.
Tristan Gordon (Page County) had an RBI double in the third and Mack an RBI single in the fourth before Trinca’s homer put the game away. They’d plate two more in the sixth on ground out by Blake Fisher (Highland School) and a sacrifice fly by Nick Lottchea (Westfield).
“As good as we hit the ball, the difference in the game was [Bohenek] getting us through five innings after we had that start,” Covington said. “He started mixing and threw a few change-ups and got his breaking ball working.”
The North continues play this morning against the Central - who beat the West, 6-4, in the other game last night - and then plays the West this afternoon. The winner of the North-Central game clinches a spot in tomorrow’s Gold Medal game.
Notable: Teddy Merritt (McLean), a 6-foot-6 right-hander who committed earlier this month to High Point, will start against the Central. Merritt was 5-1 with a save, a 3.02 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 44 innings for the Highlanders this spring … Today’s temperatures are forecasted to reach into triple digits, which is even hotter on the artificial turf playing surface. Tournament organizers are preparing for potential delays should trainers determined the conditions become too hot.
Quotable: “I told him, as an ex-college college coach and scout, ‘When I go see pitchers, I want to see you on your bad days as well as your good days. And today wasn’t a good day, but any college coach here today has to walk away not as impressed with the stuff because it wasn’t great today, but with the demeanor and the poise and the bulldog in him to get through that and hold that game there for us’. That was just clutch.” - North coach Mike Covington, on Eric Bohenek’s five-inning outing.
Next: The North plays in the first game this morning against the Central at 9:30, then will play in the third game this afternoon against the West.
Photo of Thomas Trinca by Joey Kamide