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Trinity shuts out Shelby

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By Laura Clark

  Before Shelby took the field against visiting Trinity on Thursday, the coaches made the players chant “swing the stupid bat,” a little mantra to get them out of the hitting slump they’ve been in.

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Well, the Rockets swung against lefty Ben Fuchs. They made some contact. “Swing the stupid bat” occasionally drifted from the dugout.

But Shelby (12-8) earned just three hits as No. 11 Trinity (10-7) shut out the Rockets, 6-0.

Contemplating his team’s hitting mentality, senior John Hunter said the Rockets aren’t worried. After all, he added, they’re facing the best pitching he can remember in the past three years.

“Once we start hitting, we’ll be fine,” Hunter said. “Hitting’s all about confidence. We’re almost there.”

In addition to earning one of the Rockets' hits (Tyler Tipton and Trey Clark had the others), Hunter was also one of two Rockets to get on base thanks to errors.

That one came in the bottom of the seventh. With Hunter on first, pinch hitter Clark stepped up and singled to right field. It was the first time in the game that Shelby had more than one runner on base.

But any hope of a comeback against Fuchs, who struck out nine and didn't walk anyone, was erased when Brandon Roberts hit into a double play.

“Against teams like Trinity you’ve got to capitalize,” Rockets Coach Bart Roettger said. “I thought defensively we played okay. I thought our pitching was good enough to keep us in the game. If we hit, it’s a different ball game.

“We had a much better effort. We had about a 30-minute meeting with the seniors today talking about getting on the same page, talking about attitude and approaches on the field.”

Taylor Boone was Shelby’s starting pitcher. He had three strikeouts and one walk through five-plus innings.

Trinity scored its first run on a balk ruling in the third inning. Then Andrew Bowling hit a solo home run over the right-field fence (321 feet) to open the fourth.

In the sixth, the Shamrocks opened up on the Rockets. Bowling doubled deep to center field to score one. When Miles Bland stepped to the plate, a first-pitch passed ball that allowed a run to score, and then Bland singled to score another.

There were no outs and Trinity was up, 5-0, when Shelby brought Eric Standafer in to relieve Boone.

Standafer earned two strikeouts that inning, but not before Zack Kelty hit an RBI single.

Standafer got out of a jam in the top of the seventh. After a double and a walk, Standafer hit Bland, loading the bases with no outs.

But he struck out the next two to finish with five strikeouts in two innings of work.

“Our guys understand we’re losing to a quality opponent,” Roettger said. “These guys want to be mentioned among the top programs in the state. In the long run, that’s a good thing. They know what it takes to get there.”