Trevor Kniskern found a pretty impressive rhythm on the mound Wednesday morning.
Unfortunately for the Pompano Beach baseball team, it came a few batters too late.
After giving up two runs in the first inning, Kniskern faced the minimum 18 batters the rest of the game, allowing one walk and no hits.
The Golden Tornadoes, however, weren’t able to overcome the early damage and suffered a hard-luck 2-1 loss to defending state champion Jacksonville Bolles in a Class 5A state semifinal at Hammond Stadium.
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Kniskern, a junior right-handed pitcher and Pepperdine signee who arrived at state with an 11-0 record and an 0.98 ERA, pitched a complete game and struck out seven, but suffered his first loss after all three of the hits he allowed gave Bolles a 2-0 lead in the first.
"Their whole lineup is pretty decent and I had to start off strong and try to work ahead in the count," Kniskern said. "After that first inning, I had a little bump, but then I settled down."
Bulldogs’ junior second baseman Max Ferguson and junior shortstop Austin Knight – each University of Tennessee – led off the game with a single and a double. Kniskern retired senior third baseman and North Carolina recruit Clemente Inclan on a ground ball, but senior designated hitter Brendan O’Neil’s grounder scored the first run.
University of Virginia recruit Hunter Barco then dropped a ball just inside the left field line that bounced over the wall for a ground rule double that gave Bolles a 2-0 edge.
Barco, a sophomore left-handed pitcher, spent the remainder of the game making that lead stick.
Pompano (24-4) mustered only one run off Barco in the second inning, but couldn’t find the equalizer despite multiple chances.
Their best came in the bottom of the seventh with two outs when pinch hitter Alex Skirvin walked and senior catcher Jeremy Davis singled down the left field line and advanced to second on the throw to third base putting the potential tying and winning runs in scoring position.
Pompano junior center fielder Mike Schuler hit a slow chopper up the middle that Ferguson handled and threw to first to get him by a step and end the game.
"Sometimes baseball isn’t fair," Pompano Beach coach Joe Giummule said. "We deserved to win the game and made tremendous play after tremendous play."
Pompano, which made its first appearance at the state final four and is only three years removed from a stretch of four consecutive losing seasons, scored its lone run on senior left fielder Austin Carney’s double that scored junior shortstop Chase Costello with no outs in the second.
But the Tornadoes failed to draw even when Barco struck out junior first baseman Jake Nord and on a ground ball by junior third baseman Matt Stephenson, Knight delivered a perfect throw to the plate to retire Carney and erase the potential tying run.
Pompano Beach would move at least one runner into scoring position in three more innings, but come up short each time.