Colton Schunnuth is the next man up for Chaparral, to borrow a sports term used when a position on a team suffers injuries.
Schunnuth has moved into a more prominent role on the Wolverines' pitching staff because of injuries, and he hurled a four-hit shutout in Chaparral's 4-0 Continental League win over Parker rival Ponderosa on April 12 at the Wolverines' Eaton field.
“It was his third start,” said Chaparral coach Alan DiGiosio. “He was competing to be our No. 3. We have three pitchers with injuries, so we are piecing things together with our bullpen. It kind of shows our pitching depth. Colton did a good job. He's a contact guy and he's going to work quickly. He's not going to overpower anybody and he put a lot of balls in play.”
It took only one hour and 37 minutes for Schunnuth to earn his first win of the season. The junior right-hander induced 10 ground-ball outs, walked only one batter and struck out four.
“It was a challenge but I took it to heart,” said Schunnuth of his role as a spot starter. “My curve ball was pretty good against Ponderosa. I got a lot of first-pitch strikes which helped a lot. I get a lot of contact and get outs.”
Joe Maxie had two of Ponderosa's hits but the Mustangs never got a runner beyond second base.
“We hit the ball hard but right at them,” said Ponderosa coach Bob Maloney. “You have to give their kid credit, he threw a good baseball game. He kept us off balance and kept the ball down. The last inning we squared up two line drives, but that's baseball. I'm disappointed we lost but our kids didn't play a bad game. They got situational hitting and we didn't.”
Ponderosa right-hander Sam Beecher was touched for four runs and gave up six hits.
Senior Andrew Psaltis had two singles for the Wolverines and scored a run. Luke Bailey, Jackson Winslow and Bryce Matthews delivered run-scoring hits.
The win evened Chaparral's Continental League record at 1-1 and pulled the Wolverines close to the .500 mark for the season.
“We started 0-5,” said DiGiosio. “We have won five of the last six and have a chance to get back to .500. After the first week of league play, I'm pretty happy. There might be one team that every team is looking at, but there is a lot of talent in the league and a lot of opportunities for a lot of different teams to compete for the championship and a high seeding in the playoffs.”
Ponderosa, a Class 4A team, dropped its league opener to Chaparral but is 8-2 overall.
“We were 8-1 coming into this game and now we're 8-2,” said Maloney. “We were hoping to be .500 coming into this game. The kids have really played well together. We got shutdown against Chaparral but in this league that's going to happen.
“For us, a 4A school, a couple wins in the league would be huge for us. We'd love to win all 10 of them but our goal is to get four or five and that would be huge. We just have plug away and hopefully we can steal a couple games.”