By Adam Harnish Most pitchers would start to see a decline in performance after throwing 130 pitches and facing the opposing lineup for a fourth time. Of course, most pitchers aren’t Derek Shifflett.
With runners on first and second with no outs in the 8th inning, Reds head coach Robert Sherfey went to the mound to see if Shifflett, his starter, was game to keep throwing.
“He made the comment to me, ‘I’ll do what you need me to do,’” Coach Sherfey recalled. “‘I’ll get it done.’ That’s just Derek.”
Shifflett then proceeded to retire the last six batters in order to finish the game off and secure the 13-4 win over the Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks. It was actually Shifflett’s third complete game of the season, throwing close to 150 pitches on Wednesday night.
“That’s like a cakewalk to him,” Coach Sherfey said of Shifflett’s pitch count. “He’s a competitor, he’s always going to be that way, and he’s a great kid. I’m glad we have him.”
It was an impressive performance overall by the Reds on Wednesday night. Bridgewater took the lead in the third inning on a two-run home run by first baseman Tucker Garrison, but the Diamondbacks rallied back and took a 4-3 lead in the fifth on a three-run bomb by center fielder Tanner Levine. When the Reds came back to the plate in the next frame, they were ready to execute.
“Just be patient at the plate,” Coach Sherfey told his guys. “Make good at bats...when that happens, good things happen to you. It works, you just gotta be patient.”
Finally, the offense was able to break through, scoring seven runs in the frame, highlighted by a two run single by, yes, Derek Shifflett. The offense batted around, giving the Reds a 10-4 lead, who then added three runs in the later innings for insurance.
The Diamondbacks were competitive for most of the game, until things blew open in the 6th. DBacks starter Jacob Matheney matched up well against Shifflett for most of the evening, but ended up with six earned runs and the loss. Leadoff hitter Tyler Wilcher had a productive day at the plate for Stuarts Draft, reaching base in four of his five at-bats with a run and an RBI.
Wednesday night’s win moves the Reds up to 5-7 on the year, while the Diamondbacks fall to 6-6. The Reds are back in action on Thursday night at home against the Montezuma Braves (6-5). The DBacks look to rebound on Sunday at home against the New Market Shockers (7-6).