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Zion Lutheran Scores Big Win Over Sheridan Hills

Alex Ernestine took command from the mound.

Last season, Zion Lutheran dominated Sheridan Hills in three games last year in District 2A-13, outscoring them 38-5, before the Sharks beat the Lions in the regional semifinals.

Zion avenged that regional semifinal loss Thursday by scoring a 13-3 win over the Sharks and establishing early dominance in the district as it banged out nine hits.

The Zion Lutheran set the tone early, scoring two runs in the first. They added six more in the second, two in the third and three in the fourth.

Zion Lutheran pitcher Alex Ernestine had his ‘A’ game going, striking out 12 overall and the side in the second and fifth inning. He displayed great control, throwing many pitches for strikes and getting ahead of the hitters for the major part of the game. He allowed only two walks and two hits. Ernestine helped his own cause by having a big day at the plate. He had three RBIs courtesy of a two-run home run in the first and a sacrifice fly in the second.

The hits started coming in the bottom of the first inning, when lead-off hitter Manny Rojas greeted the Sharks pitcher with a base hit up-the-middle and subsequently stole second base. Shortstop Johnny Mendez put down a perfectly placed bunt that stayed on the third-base line for a base hit that also advanced Rojas to third. After a double play and a runner still on third, Ernestine worked the count, and on the 3-2, pitch blasted a towering two-run home run to left-center.

The Lions came up with nine hits Thursday.

In the bottom of the second, the Lions’ hitters picked up where they left off. Right fielder Cole Conn drew a walk and stole second uncontested. Left fielder Mike Rand lined to left field for a base hit, advancing Conn to third. With one out and a runner on third, third baseman Elijah Rodriguez drew a walk and proceeded to steal second. Second baseman Manny Rojas hit a scorching line drive to the left-center gap for a two-run triple.

With bases loaded for the Lions, Alex Ernestine connected a fly to center field with enough distance for Rojas to tag up and score from third. With two outs and runners on second and third, center fielder Robert Barradas hit a grounder to the infield and on a bad throw to first  two runs score for the Lions. The second inning was the big one for the Zion Lutheran team who would continue to score runs in the next two innings.

The young Sheridan Hills team performed well defensively, making just one error.

“We are a better team than we showed today,” Sharks Manager Tim Talpesh said. “We need to make the defensive plays and limit the other team. We have to continue working on our fundamentals. We will get better.”

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