Millbrook’s Cole Leneschmidt made one appearance during the Wildcats’ 4A state championship series loss to Providence last season.
A lot has changed since then.
The 5-foot-11 right-hander got his second victory of the year, allowing just one hit over six shutout innings as Millbrook defeated Cap-8 Conference rival Wakefield 4-0 at home Tuesday afternoon.
“Cole, he’s been bringing it all year, man,” left fielder Bryce Carnevale said. “He’s a competitor. Last year, we brought him up in the playoffs and he pitched in the state championship game. Gave him just a little gist of what it’s going to be like this year. And he’s done everything. He’s filled in the shoes of (Alex) Royalty.”
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Millbrook took advantage of three walks in the third inning via an RBI single by Carnevale and two insurance runs in the sixth to cruise to a fourth win in as many tries in Cap 8 play and improve to 6-3 overall. The News & Observer’s No. 14 Wildcats have outscored league foes 28-5.
Using a strong fastball, Leneschmidt struck out nine. He walked four and allowed just a lead-off single to the Wolverines’ Hunter Stevens in the third inning. He was finally chased in the ninth after his last, and 102nd, offering was laced back to the mound by Nick Coutros, who reached on an error.
Leneschmidt said if not for a 13-pitch at-bat by Wakefield’s Tommy Avery in the fifth, he may have gotten the complete game.
“That at-bat cost me the complete game, probably,” he said. “But it was a heck of a battle by (Avery). And I’ll get one.”
In the top of the third, Wakefield (5-4, 2-2) was threatening after Stevens singled, went to second on a sacrifice bunt and No. 9 hitter Jake Gibson walked.
However, on the first pitch to Jake Norris, Stevens was thrown out at third for the second out. Foiling a potential rally.
“It was a missed sign,” Wakefield head coach Chris Keown said of the steal attempt. “We had two baserunning mistakes early. You go to sleep against a team as good as Millbrook, it’ll cost you.”
Millbrook worked the count, especially early, against Wakefield starter Ryan Fowler.
“It’s one of the few things we did right at the plate all day,” Millbrook head coach Austin James said. “We made them throw a lot of pitches.”
In fact, seven of the first nine batters worked a full count.
Carnevale watched three called strikes his first plate appearance. He didn’t make the same mistake twice roping a single to center to make it 2-0 on an 0-1 pitch.
“He had me off balance,” Carnevale said of Fowler. “I just had to get my hands through the zone and hit it up the middle.”
Three to know
Porter Baldwin, Millbrook: Junior closed the door on Wakefield in the seventh inning, needing 14 pitches to earn his second save. His hitless inning with one strikeout, gave him 10 scoreless on the season, with seven strikeouts.
Will Gamble, Millbrook: Sophomore first baseman went 1 for 2 with a walk and RBI single.
Charlie Butler, Wakefield: Right-hander struck out three in three innings of relief.