Shultz shuts down Midd-West to boost Danville

Apr. 19—DANVILLE — Wyatt Shultz may have spritzed some lighter fluid on Danville's situation in his first inning of relief Friday, but the Ironmen junior certainly doused Midd-West's hopes over the final three frames.

Shultz responded to the Mustangs adding three runs to their lead against him by retiring nine of their final 10 batters — six via strikeout — as Danville rallied for a 10-6 win in the Heartland Athletic Conference-Division II game.

"My entire career I've been relief pitching, so my mindset's always, like, when you're in tight situations just let loose," Shultz said. "It's not a matter of where we are on the scoreboard. It's about sitting guys down."

Midd-West turned its 3-1 lead after three innings into a 6-1 advantage with four hits off Shultz and an infield error in the fourth. The Ironmen responded with six runs in the home fourth, stringing together five hits at one point, to give Shultz the lead he protected to end a two-game losing streak.

"We needed a win," said Danville coach Devin Knorr, whose team had dropped three of four. "We ran into some tough luck this week, playing some really good 4A teams and things didn't go our way. So we came into today knowing we needed to put something together, and kind of turn the tide a little bit.

"Then you get down 6-1 against a good baseball team, and a lot of teams would fold the tent, pack it in. Our kids fought. I think that was the spark we needed to come out of a tailspin."

The Ironmen (7-3 overall, 3-2 HAC-II) rapped 15 hits, including three from both Matt Acor and Jack Gibson, and two from Reece McCarthy, Lincoln Diehl and Shultz. Kaleb Stetler, Carter Raup and McCarthy each had a pair of RBIs in the win.

"Hopefully we can channel that moving forward in the second half of the season," Knorr added. "The bottom line is we're 7-3 at the halfway point, and we'll take 7-3."

Midd-West (5-4, 2-3) lost for the second time in as many days after stumbling 4-0 further upriver at Southern Columbia on Thursday. They played both games without injured senior and Charleston Southern commit Caden Wolfley.

Cole Keister got Friday's start for the Mustangs, and the right-hander limited Danville to one run on four hits through three innings. The Ironmen loaded the bases against him with one out in the first, but managed one run.

Midd-West scored three times in the second inning with just one hit — Cole Shutt's leadoff single — and Mustangs second baseman Kyle Shupp turned an inning-ending double play in the third to preserve a 3-1 lead.

When Shultz took the ball from Garrett Hoffman at the start of the fourth, Midd-West nine-hole hitter Deric Rager greeted him with a flare to left field for a hit. The Ironmen then misplayed a chopper to third base ahead of an infield single by Alex Trojan that loaded the bases with no outs.

Shultz got his first strikeout before Garrett Leitzel hammered a 2-1 pitch to left-center for a two-run double. A strong relay from Raup to McCarthy to Gibson cut down a run at the plate, but Shutt drilled the next pitch near the left-field line to score Leitzel for a 6-1 lead.

"Definitely tip my cap to them for getting themselves a couple runs," said Shultz, "but I knew that all I had to do was get more outs and our bats were going to come to life eventually. When they did, all I had to do was go out and shut them down for the next couple innings."

Diehl's leadoff single in the home fourth lit the fuse on a six-run rally. After Gibson worked a walk and a ground ball moved both Ironmen into scoring position, Raup lined a two-run double past third base. Then Cole Duffy, Acor (RBI), McCarthy (2 RBIs) and Shultz laced singles and Danville surged ahead 7-6.

"(Shultz) came into a spot where we're trying to hold them down, and, unfortunately, (they had) a couple base hits and he had to battle," Knorr said. "I think it was a wake-up call, and we fought. For us to come back and put six on the board, I think it's going to be a springboard. I'm really proud of how we responded and fought to get back into it."

With the lead, Shultz was dominant. He needed just 10 pitches to cut through the bottom of Midd-West's order in the fifth. Braxton Smith lined a two-out single in the sixth, but Shultz fanned the next three batters before a pop out ended the game.

Shultz struck out seven without issuing a walk in his longest outing of the season. He improved to 2-1 with a 1.47 ERA and a team-high 22 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings. His hit in the midst of the six-run rally bumped his season average to .371.

"Most definitely that (hit) helped a lot. That put my mind straight," he said. "I got that hit and now I'm even more excited to get out on the mound and shut them down."



Midd-West;030;300;0 — 6-9-0

Danville;100;612;x — 10-15-3

Cole Keister, Deric Rager (6) and Cole Shutt. Garrett Hoffman, Wyatt Shultz (4) and Jack Gibson.

WP: Shultz. LP: Keister.

Midd-West: Kyle Shupp 1-for-4, run, RBI; Alex Trojan 1-for-3, RBI; Braxton Smith 2-for-3; Garrett Leitzel 1-for-4, double, 2 RBIs; Shutt 2-for-4, run, RBI; Westin Kuhns run; Xavier Fuller 1-for-4, run; Rager 1-for-2, run.

Danville: Cole Duffy 1-for-3, run; Matt Acor 3-for-4, 2 runs, RBI; Reece McCarthy 2-for-2, double, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Shultz 2-for-4; Kaleb Stetler 2 RBIs; Lincoln Diehl 2-for-4, run; Landon Rogers run; Gibson 3-for-3, RBI; Casey Mills run; Hoffman 1-for-4, double, run; Carter Raup 1-for-3, double, run, 2 RBIs.