Barr hurls shutout as Eagles blank Panthers 7-0

Smyrna’s Hunter Barr pitches against Polytech. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

WOODSIDE — The first win of the season was nice for the Smyrna High baseball team.

But Hunter Barr wanted a little something extra.

He was gunning for the shutout.

Barr stayed under the 85-pitch count for the early part of the season to toss a complete game shutout for Smyrna as the Eagles won at Polytech 7-0 Saturday afternoon in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division contest. The shutout snapped a four-game losing streak for Smyrna, which improved to 1-4.

“That’s what I wanted,” Barr said. “For the first win of the season, it feels good.”

Polytech’s Colby Gardner slides headfirst into third base in the first inning against Smyrna’s third baseman Mason Drummond at Polytech.

It was also the first victory for new Smyrna head coach Mark Wilhelm.

Layne Bell paced the Smyrna offense with a 4-for-5 day at the plate. He doubled and scored during a three-run second inning as the Eagles gave Barr all the run support he needed.

Bell added a solo home run in the top of the sixth to spark a four-run inning.

“It feels amazing,” Bell said. “We only needed one and now we’re going to step up for the rest of the season.”

Barr struck out six and scattered seven hits. He finished with 79 pitches in his seven innings of work.

The Eagles’ Shawn Mannering slides into second base safe as Polytech’s Brent Buckson receives an errant throw.

He was able to wiggle his way out of trouble twice in the early innings to keep the Panthers (2-3) off the scoreboard.

Barr’s first escape came in the bottom of the third when Polytech had runners on first and second with one out. He forced a grounder to third baseman Mason Drummond who stepped on the bag at third before firing across the diamond to complete the double play.

Things looked a little worse next inning when Barr loaded the bases with nobody out.

Still, the Panthers did not score as Barr struck out the next two batters. He then induced a grounder to Bell at shortstop for a force out.

“Anytime he steps on the mound, we’re confident,” Bell said.

Polytech head coach Mark Wilhelm watches the action.

“Hunter did a great job,” Wilhelm said. “His change-up was working and he was spotting his curveball. He was able to get ahead of batters and did a great job of pounding the zone.”

Drummond got the Eagle offense started with a double in the top of the second. Logan Strauss and Connor Strauss followed with back-to-back RBI singles. Andrew Unterreiner also had a RBI groundout in the inning.

The Eagles picked up more insurance runs in the sixth after Bell’s homer when Shawn Mannering, Andrew Whitlock and Drummond added RBI singles.

Smyrna is currently in a stretch of seven consecutive Henlopen Conference games to open its season. The Eagles came up short in the first four against Delmar, Sussex Tech, Indian River and Cape Henlopen.

“It’s the toughest conference in the state,” Wilhelm said. “This shows all the hard work these kids are putting in. They get out there and hit after practice to do the extra time they need to do. It’s starting to show out in the field. We got a good team and we’ll surprise a couple people here and there.”

“We’re just a family,” Barr said. “We’re always picking each other up and working hard at practice no matter what. It feels good to get that first W.”

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