By Pat Coleman
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Birmingham-Southern greeted Heidelberg starter Alex Sir Louis with a line drive single and booming double, touching him up for two runs in the first and one in the second, and the Panthers made it stand up in a 6-1 win.
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While John Michael Shirley allowed just one hit through the first four innings, Sir Louis was chased in the top of the fifth after a pair of walks and a hit batsman loaded the bases. Following an infield groundout, No. 9 hitter Cole Steadman lashed a double into left-center, clearing the bases and staking Birmingham-Southern to a 6-0 lead.
|John Michael Shirley kept the mighty Heidelberg bats in check.
Photo by Larry Radloff, d3photography.com
"That at-bat was lefty on lefty, just looking for a fastball out over the plate, away," said Steadman. "I knew they’d probably spin a couple in front of me, so I just was waiting on that one pitch and when I got it, I took a hack.
Brian Williams led off the game with a single to left and Tyler Wise’s big hit put runners on second and third. Williams came home on an infield groundout by Tyler Hamel and A.J. Hunt hit a ball that second baseman Tyler Smith couldn’t handle, ruled a base hit, bringing home Wise.
Williams was key in the second-inning run as well, as his single brought home Steadman from second.
All the while, Shirley was cruising. He routinely had Heidelberg hitters off-balance, chasing fastballs up in the zone, guessing wrong on breaking and offspeed pitches to the tune of nine strikeouts in the first six innings. The ninth came with the bases loaded in the sixth inning, where Eric Devore got rung up in a spot where he could have put a dent in the lead.
Shirley went six shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing just two hits, although he walked five.
"It was a great effort by John Michael on the mound," said Panthers coach Jan Weisbrg. "Normally he pitches second for us – (but I) thought he was a really good matchup; they’re a really good hitting team and he just pitched a great game."
Williams and Steadman had three hits apiece for the Panthers, who improved to 40-13, setting the mark for the most wins in the program’s history as a Division III program. B-SC will face Johns Hopkins in the final game of the night, scheduled for a 7:45 p.m. CT start, while Heidelberg will face Babson in an elimination game scheduled to begin at 4:30.