Bullpen bails out Cimarron against Shadow Ridge

When Alex Harker hit Logan Hold with a pitch with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Cimarron-Memorial baseball coach Mike Hubel didn’t hesitate to call on Josh Nuernberg.

The junior right-hander slammed the door against Shadow Ridge’s hottest hitter, getting Ben Fitzhugh to ground out to third base to end the game, and the Spartans escaped with a 4-3 road victory Thursday.

“That’s what we’re going to use (Nuernberg) for, those big situations like that where we really need somebody,” Hubel said. “Not that Harker wouldn’t have gotten the job done, but you know what, I felt like it was time for a change right there, and Josh got the job done.”

Fitzhugh had two of Shadow Ridge’s three hits. The junior tripled to left in the first and lined a sharp single to left in the third. He also had a would-be homer go just foul in his third plate appearance.

Harker pitched three scoreless innings of relief to get the win, and got out of his own tough situation in the fourth.

He came on with two on and two out and walked Mike Wager on four pitches to load the bases for Hold, Shadow Ridge’s cleanup hitter. Harker got Hold to ground out to short and then retired nine straight before being lifted with one out remaining.

“I think he was a little nervous to start coming into a big situation,” Hubel said. “But he did a phenomenal job for us, held them right where we wanted to keep them, and that was due to him.”

Cimarron (8-1, 2-0 Northwest League) got a clutch hit from No. 8 hitter Ryan Corwin in the fourth. With the game tied 3-3, Corwin lined a one-out single to center to bring in the go-ahead run.

“One through nine right now is hitting pretty decent,” Hubel said. “Our three-four guys, they didn’t do squat today, but everybody else kind of picks them up. And that’s the way we’ve been playing. We haven’t been relying on one or two guys.”

Shadow Ridge (2-3, 1-1) hurt itself with mistakes in the field and on the bases. The Mustangs committed six errors and made two key baserunning blunders.

Shadow Ridge had the bases loaded in the bottom of the third with the score tied at 3. But Cory Royer wandered off first base following a 2-2 pitch, apparently believing it was ball four.

Royer got in a rundown and Cimarron eventually got the lead runner at the plate to end the inning.

Then in the fourth, the Mustangs had runners at the corners with one out when Alec Pittsenbarger hit a grounder to second. Cimarron got the force at second, but was unable to complete the double play.

However, Demetrios Phillippou never broke from third, and he was stranded when Harker got Hold to ground out.