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Examiner
  • Fort's Merithew dominates Pats in opener

  • Alex Merithew was in mid-season form as the lanky senior threw a complete-game, three-hit shutout in a season-opening 3-0 victory over Truman Tuesday afternoon at wind-swept Fort Osage High School.

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  • Alex Merithew was in mid-season form as the lanky senior threw a complete-game, three-hit shutout in a season-opening 3-0 victory over Truman Tuesday afternoon at wind-swept Fort Osage High School.
    “In 12 years at Fort Osage, that's the most fun I've ever had on opening day,” Indians coach Chris Walker said after Merithew dominated the Patriots, racking up 11 strikeouts.
    “He looked in mid-season form. He looked about as good as you can look. He stayed ahead of their hitters and was in total command out there. It turned out to be a real pitcher's duel.
    “(Tom) Ruddy was pitching real well for them and we managed to score that unearned run in the fourth and kind of broke it open with the two runs in the sixth.”
    Ruddy allowed just one unearned run in four innings. A Derek Pike double and infield error gave Fort Osage a 1-0 lead.
    The Indians added two huge runs in the sixth on a Chad Sutton walk, a stolen base, and back-to-back sacrifice bunts, with Hayden Baumgartner's bunt scoring Sutton.
    Pike then followed with a solo homer, deep over the right-field fence into the parking lot.
    “We wanted to break it open for Merithew because he was pitching a great game,” Pike said. “We weren't going to let it be 0-0. That just wouldn't be fair. We finally scored that one run in the fourth and gave him a little bit of insurance in the sixth.”
    Merithew got in some post-game laps in the outfield before discussing the top start of his Fort Osage career.
    “This feels so good,” Merithew said. “It was a complete team win – we played great defense, got some big hits and sacrifice bunts and then got the homer from Derek. I wanted to go all the way because I felt really good out there.”
    Walker came out and visited with Merithew in the sixth inning when the veteran coach noticed some of his pitches were in the high part of the strike zone.
    “He told me he knew what he was doing and that he could strike those kids out with those pitches – and he did – so I went back in the dugout and enjoyed it,” Walker said. “You just don't see many pitching performances like that this early in the season.
    “I'm proud of him. The sixth and seventh innings he's like, “Coach, I got this thing. Coach, I got this thing.' I think he was afraid I was going to take him out of the game. I wasn't. Not when he's pitching like that.”
    Truman coach John Eglich was happy with his team's pitching as Ruddy and reliever J.T. Hayes allowed just two earned runs.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Hayes got the one pitch up to (Pike) and he hit it out of the park,” Eglich said. "But other than that, it was a good performance by both guys. I'm unhappy with our errors and we didn't hit anything, but Merithew had a lot to do with that.
    “He looked like he'd been pitching all season and we played like it was our first game. We'll get better.”
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC
     

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