Fort Osage pitcher Jacob Merithew is the third in his family to play in the program.
His brother Alex Merithew plays overseas for a professional baseball team in Belgium while his other brother Josh is playing for Hastings College in Nebraska,
So clearly the sport runs in his blood, and his talent was on display Friday.
The sophomore did everything but fill the Gatorade cooler as he threw a six-inning shutout and drove in seven runs during his team’s sixth-inning, run-rule 11-0 win against crosstown rival William Chrisman in a Suburban Middle Six showdown.
Merithew constantly threw his fastball and curveball for strikes. His curve has a nasty 12-6 movement on it, which made it difficult for the Chrisman hitters to make contact. The Bears managed just four hits in six innings.
“(Merithew) has two great pitches going for him,” Chrisman coach Miles Shelton said. “I actually thought his curveball was a split finger with the way it was coming out of his hand.”
The lanky Fort Osage right-hander only walked one and struck out six in the win. He even helped preserve his shutout with a nice defensive play in the fourth. Chrisman had runners at second and third with one out when Nelson Melendez smashed a shot up the middle. Merithew reacted quickly, snagged the ball, checked on the runner at third before getting the out at first. He got out of the jam when he struck out Alex Johnson. In the sixth, he struck out the side to complete his big day.
“First of all, I just want to say all the glory to God,” Merithew said. “This was probably my best performance of the year. Hopefully I can do better someday. This offseason, I worked a lot with my brothers. My brother Alex helped me perfect my pitches.”
Added Fort Osage coach Chris Walker: “It was good to see him settle in early. He looked really sharp. He had the tight curveball going. You aren’t going to outwork Jacob Merithew. That’s just the way he is and how his brothers were.”
At the plate, Merithew was just as good if not better. He was 3-for-3, slugging a grand slam in the sixth inning against Bears relief pitcher Frankie Gervy. The sophomore caught up to a high fastball and deposited the ball over the left-field fence with the wind blowing out.
“When it came off the bat, I didn’t know if it was high enough,” Merithew said. “I saw it go over and I was like, ‘All right, cool.’”
While Merithew put on a show, the offense erupted with 11 runs on 11 hits. Fort Osage first baseman Bryce Dye got things started when he went with an outside pitch from Seth Gossett and hit an opposite-field, two-run homer for a 2-0 lead in the first.
“Bryce is feeling it for us, he’s swinging the bat well,” Walker said.
The Indians (6-7, 3-2 Middle Six) added two more in the fourth when Merithew drilled an RBI double to deep left field and Sam Carlson smacked a run-scoring single to center.
They went up 6-0 in the fifth because of Merithew once again, who was a triple short of the cycle. He hit a two-run single in that frame before busting the game open with a grand slam in the next inning.
Chrisman (3-7, 1-4) suffered its fourth straight loss by the mercy rule. Shelton hopes to get his team more practice time when the weather cooperates.
“I am hoping we can do a lot of defensive work stuff,” Shelton said. “We hope to throw a lot of flat grounds and bullpens. And we need to hit a lot more.”
Spencer Patrick was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and Zane Barr was 2-for-2 with two runs scored to help spark the Indians.