The first time Faith Lutheran's baseball team faced Shadow Ridge left-hander Mitchell Shields this season, the Crusaders didn't manage a hit.
Shields picked up where he left off to start Tuesday's game, mowing down the Crusaders for two innings, before an infield single got Faith Lutheran going. And the Crusaders used that new-found confidence against Shields to score two runs in the sixth and earn a 5-3 home victory.
"Once (Brendan) Meyer got his hit in the third, then a couple guys followed suit, and we ended up scoring some runs," Faith Lutheran coach Tony Girod said. "Meyer got his hit and then the other guys started believing they could hit him, and we started stringing together some baserunners."
The game was tied 3-3 going into the bottom of the sixth when Zach Skipper started a rally by lining a single to right. With the runner going, Caleb Summerhays hit a chopper to second for an infield single. Erich Uelmen then sacrificed the runners to second and third, and Andrew Hudgins delivered a sacrifice fly to give Faith Lutheran (13-9-1, 6-3 Northwest League) the lead.
After Summerhays stole third, Meyer hit a sharp grounder back up the middle. Shields deflected the ball but had no play, and Summerhays scored an insurance run.
"Shields is a great pitcher," Girod said. "He has command of three pitches in the strike zone, and we were not going to back down. We were going to be aggressive. The only way you can beat a guy that's going to throw strikes and take command of the strike zone is to go out and hit it."
Shadow Ridge (12-10, 5-4) led 2-0 early, but Shields hit Hudgins to start the third, and Meyer followed with an infield single. Tyler Trageton bunted the runners to second and third, and J.B. Eary walked to load the bases.
Hudgins scored on a wild pitch, and Josh Murtha singled up the middle to bring home two runs for a 3-2 lead.
Shadow Ridge tied the score in the fifth on an RBI double by Mike Wager.
Murtha pitched the distance, scattering nine hits and walking none. He struck out three.
"He's a senior, he's a leader, and he came out and made some adjustments and was better this week than he was last week," Girod said. "And he ends up with a win in a close game instead of a loss. That's what being a leader is about."
He got some help from his defense. Eary made a diving stop of a Shields grounder in the first inning, gunning down Shields at first to save a run. Meyer made a diving catch in left field to start the third.
"They had some big plays that were made," Girod said. "Everybody contributed in the game."
Josh Roelofs was 2-for-4 with two runs, Logan Hold went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, and Wager was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run for the Mustangs.
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4587.