Brandon-Evansville baseball: Schaffer flirts with no-hitter
The Brandon-Evansville baseball team needed exactly what it got out of senior Dan Schaffer on the mound on Tuesday night.
The Chargers came into the season starved for experience in their rotation after losing everyone on their staff to graduation. Their pitching and defense struggled through the first few weeks of the season as they allowed 73 runs on their way to an 0-6 start.
Head coach Brian Perleberg said early on that if things were going to turn around on the mound, it would likely start with Schaffer as the team's only senior pitcher. Against Ashby on Tuesday, he pitched like his team needs him to while leading Brandon-Evansville to its first shutout of the spring in a 4-0 win.
"I was just able to get first-pitch strikes," Schaffer said. "I could use my pitches from there. I didn't really mix in my [curveball] that much, but I used the fastball a lot."
Schaffer overpowered Ashby hitters through five hitless innings before Blake Ohren broke up the no-hit bid with an infield single in the sixth. Jon Quernemoen followed with a sharp base hit to center in the following at-bat before Schaffer got out of the jam with a strikeout that helped preserve a narrow 2-0 lead for his team.
The Chargers added a couple insurance runs for him in the bottom of the inning. A two-out error at shortstop allowed two runs to score and gave Schaffer the extra cushion to work with in the seventh.
He didn't end up needing it. Schaffer gave up a leadoff double to Gage Olson before getting the next three guys he faced. Schaffer finished the night with three hits allowed and just one walk, while striking out seven.
"I'm the only senior pitcher on the team," Schaffer said. "Last year, we lost a lot of good senior pitchers, too. I feel like I have to just throw strikes and let the defense make the plays behind me and win ballgames."
The most important ingredient behind his success came by allowing just the one walk in the first inning. The Chargers gave up way too many free passes in the first few weeks of the season. That made staying in games all but impossible for a team that is averaging fewer than four runs per game.
"We walked way too many people and that just put pressure on our defense," Perleberg said. "Now we're limiting our walks and good things are happening...it's just being comfortable. I think we had a lot of nerves those first outings because again, so many of those guys were in their varsity debut - they just weren't comfortable. Now they've had some innings and are trusting their defense."
The Chargers' defense backed Schaffer up with one of their better games of the season. Brandon-Evansville committed just one error and got a number of strong plays from Billie Juul. The junior shortstop showed off a strong arm and charged a few ground balls to record outs at first when the no-hitter was still intact.
"The thing about Billie is he's our most versatile player," Perleberg said. "We could play him at any of the infield positions. He pitches, he catches. We haven't needed him in the outfield, but I know if we asked him to do it, he would run out there and do a good job."
Juul did his part at the plate, too. He gave the Chargers a 2-0 lead against Ashby starter Dylan Barry in the third inning with an RBI single that brought in Blake Satterlie. Juul came around to score with two outs when Barry sent a ball to the fence on a pickoff attempt at third base.
"He's just a good baseball player," Schaffer said of Juul. "Defense and offensively."
It was defense that let the Arrows down on a night when they couldn't afford any miscues. Ashby committed four errors, which led to three unearned runs for Brandon-Evansville.
Barry did his job on the mound in a losing effort. He went all six innings, allowing just four hits and a walk, while striking out eight.
"Dylan did everything he could to keep us in the game," assistant coach Blaine Barry said. "But we struggled to get anything going offensively."
The loss dropped Ashby to 1-7 on the season. It marked the third win in the last four games for a Chargers team that feels like it's playing much better baseball than it was a month ago.
"We're very pleased right now because we think we've got a lot of guys playing where they are at their strongest," Perleberg said. "At the beginning of the year, it seemed like we could not get those timely hits when we got guys in scoring position. The last week, we've been doing a better job of it...it is getting better, and if the guys keep chipping away and don't give in, they'll be all right. We're getting there, but we still have a long ways to go."
ASHBY 000 000 0 - 0 3 4
B-E 002 002 X - 4 4 1
B-E PITCHING - Schaffer - W, 7IP, 3H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 7SO
ASHBY PITCHING - Dylan Barry - L, 6IP, 4H, 4R, 1ER, 1BB, 8SO
B-E HITTING - Juul - 1-2, RBI, 1 run, SB; Schaffer - 1-3, SB, 1 run; Satterlie - 1-2, SB, 1 run; JT Huisman - 1-2
ASHBY HITTING - Gage Olson - 2B; Jon Quernemoen - 2B; Blake Ohren - 1B
B-E 10, Eagle Valley 6
The Brandon-Evansville baseball team won its second game of the season behind a strong start from Billie Juul on the mound.
Juul gave the Chargers the kind of start they were looking for by now allowing a walk all game. He gave up two runs in the first but gave up just two more hits over the next five innings.
"Our defense backed up Juul's pitching performance by turning in a solid performance," head coach Brian Perleberg said. "We were able to kill two Eagle Valley rallies by getting outs at the plate at crucial times during the third and fourth innings."
The Chargers' offense gave Juul something to work with after pounding out 14 hits. Juul went 3-for-4 himself with a double and two runs scored. Tom Bosek went 3-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs. Craig Campbell added two hits and two runs and Nolan Bartholomew had a double and three RBIs.
"This was the most solid offensive game we've had all year as nine different players got base hits," Perleberg said. "It was exciting to see Brandon Christianson get a hit in his varsity debut when he stroked an RBI single in the second inning, cutting Eagle Valley's lead to 2-1. The top of our order (Juul, Bosek, Campbell) really set the tone tonight when they combined for eight hits and seven runs."
EAGLE VALLEY 200 001 3 - 6 6 1
B-E 012 034 X - 10 14 3
PITCHING - W - Juul; L - Logan Reidel
B-E HITTING - Bosek - 3-3, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Juul - 3-4, 2 runs, 2B, SB; Campbell - 2-4, 2 runs, 2B; Bartholomew - 1-3, 2B, 3 RBI; Dan Schaffer - 1B; Jake Roers - 1B; Levi Hintermeister - 1B; Brandon Christianson - 1B; Mitch Anderson - 1B