Ben Baier's pitching-rich Blue Springs South baseball team has been tested the past few days, and it's not going to get any easier for the Jaguars the remainder of this week.
That's why the manager was sporting an ear-to-ear grin following Ethan Frazier's 7-0 shutout against conference foe Raymore-Peculiar Tuesday afternoon at South.
“We played five games in 24 hours with about five hours sleep when we went to St. Louis this past weekend, and we have games the rest of this week, so we needed a big outing from Ethan,” Baier said after the junior scattered seven hits and threw 102 pitches in a crisp, 1-hour, 20-minute outing. “He was down to his last batter in the seventh, and (shortstop) Colton Pogue made sure he got the last out and the complete game.”
With runners on first and second and two outs, Ray-Pec leadoff hitter Evan Rathburn smacked a line drive up the middle that appeared on its way to center field when Pogue made a diving grab to end the game.
“When you have defense like that behind you, you feel confident with every pitch,” said Frazier, who pitched his first complete-game shutout as a member of the Jaguars staff. “This was just a great day. We had baseball weather. Coach Baier told me he needed a good start because of all the games we've played and all the games we have the rest of the week, and the guys got me an early lead and played great defense behind me. It was just about perfect.”
The only less-than-perfect aspect of the afternoon came when Frazier had to put on a pair of dress shoes to join his teammates for their post-game grounds crew work on the field.
“That's Ethan,” quipped Pogue, who was laughing at his teammate's shoe selection. “He looks goofy now, but Mr. Frazier got it done on the mound today. What a great start, and it came just when we needed it. We played five games in St. Louis and play a lot of games this week, and he comes out and throws a complete-game shutout. Thank you Mr. Frazier, thank you.”
Frazier said he forgot to bring a pair of tennis shoes to school today to wear after the game, so he slipped on his new loafers.
“I don't care what he wears when he pitches like he did today,” Baier said after the Jaguars improved to 7-4 overall and 2-1 in the Suburban Big Six. “We needed a game like this, and he really delivered.”
South scored what proved to be the winning runs in the bottom of the third inning when Conner Davis doubled and Jacob Clark walked against Panther starter Ben Harris. Pogue then doubled the two runners home to give South a 2-0 lead.
“We felt like if we scored a couple of runs, we would win the way Ethan was pitching,” said Pogue, who was 3-for-3 with two RBIs. “We're really playing well now, and when you get pitching like we got today, timely hitting and good defense you're going to win a lot of games.
“Today, we won at home and won a conference game, and those are two of our goals this season – to take care of business at home and win our conference games.”
South added three runs in the sixth on an error, an RBI single by Nate Pecota (the son of former Kansas City Royals utility man Bill Pecota) and Nic Mertes' infield grounder.
Ray-Pec had at least one hit in every inning and had two hits in the seventh, but Pogue's diving play preserved Frazier's shutout.
“That was Ethan's last batter,” Baier said. “He'd done all he could do for us, and Colton made the great play to end the game.”