|Brandon Eady reached in all five of his plate appearances, with two extra-base hits and three runs scored.
d3photography photo by Steve Frommell
By Erik Buchinger
GRAND CHUTE, Wis. - Keystone pounded out 16 hits and exploded for nine runs in the sixth inning to rout St. John Fisher 16-3 in Saturday’s opening game at neuroscience group field at Fox Cities Stadium.
St. John Fisher came into the game with the second-lowest earned run average in NCAA Division III baseball, but Keystone jumped on starter Stephen Lewis, who allowed 10 hits and seven earned runs to pick up his first loss of the season.
“Whether it’s a tight game or we’re down a few runs, we’re always going to be a team that’s capable of stringing a bunch of runs together,” Keystone coach Jamie Shevchik said. “That makes a scary offensive team. Putting that nine-spot up in the sixth gave us a lot of breathing room, and we were able to relax a little bit.”
Keystone right fielder Brandon Eady finished 3-for-3 with two walks, three RBI and three runs scored for the Giants.
“We have a lot of good hitters in our lineup, so if someone gets out, the next guy picks him up,” Eady said. “We’re a tough team to pitch to.”
Starter Felix Baez earned the win, throwing six scoreless innings with four hits, three walks and five strikeouts. He allowed a pair of singles in the top of the first but retired the next eight batters in a row and allowed just two more hits.
“There were times where he struggled a little bit with command, but for the most part he stayed with his fastball,” Shevchik said. “He located really well, and that’s when he’s at his best.”
Even though it was his first start in the World Series, Baez and Shevchik said nerves were not an issue heading into the game.
“I thought he threw really well,” Shevchik said. “I think the nerves left when he pitched his first game of the regional.”
Keystone scored the first run of the game in the top of the second inning on a wild pitch to score Austin Chaszar from third base. Robbie Nardelli advanced to second and scored on Alex Herceg’s double to left-centerfield to give the Giants a 2-0 lead.
Shevchik said he could sense his team was going to have a big day on offense early in the game.
“I knew we were going to swing the bats a little bit,” Shevchik said. “We didn’t expect to hit the way that we did, but after the first inning and second innings, we knew we were going to have a good offensive day.”
In the fifth, Eady tripled to the 405 sign in right-center and scored two batters later when Nate Ross lined a single to right field.
Austin Chaszar tripled to lead off the nine-run sixth inning and scored on an error. Herceg drove in another run with a single to give Keystone a 5-0 advantage.
With the bases loaded and nobody out, Lewis was lifted for DJ Mendenhall.
“Lewis is a good pitcher and usually works ahead in the count, and that’s what he does really well,” St. John Fisher coach Brandon Potter said. “He didn’t do that today. They’re a really good-hitting team, and he got behind too many of the good hitters, and they made him pay.”
Eady ripped a bases-clearing double to left field, and he scored on a sacrifice fly hit by Billy Nelson.
“I was just looking for good pitches to hit,” Eady said. “I’m just trying to get on base, and fortunately I got a couple good pitches to hit.”
Nardelli capped off the sixth-inning scoring with a three-run home run over the left-field wall to extend the lead to 12-0.
“This team is always capable of stringing together a big inning,” Shevchik said. “We just never know when that big inning is going to be.”
“Our offense is really explosive so a big inning can happen at any time,” Eady said.
Keystone added three more in the seventh with a two-RBI single from Chris Triano, and Eady scored on a wild pitch.
St. John Fisher snapped the shutout with a run-scoring double from Cody Wiktorski in the seventh.
Keystone scored again in the eighth on a balk. St. John Fisher’s Nate Roethel’s RBI single in the bottom of the inning and capped off the scoring with a RBI double from Wiktorski in the ninth.
Keystone will play the winner of UW-Whitewater and La Roche on Sunday at 1:15 p.m., while St. John Fisher will play the loser tonight at approximately 7:45 in an elimination game.
“We didn’t play very well today,” Potter said. “But we play in a few hours, but we’ll head to the hotel, regroup and figure it out.”