SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — An early lead got away from the St. Marys baseball team in slow motion — just like the cotton candy pitches of Shawnee reliever Kyle Miller entering and disappearing from the hitting zone.
Shawnee chipped away at St. Marys’ lead one run at a time while the Roughriders couldn’t figure out a way to add insurance runs against the soft-tossing of Miller.
It meant a quick tournament exit for a Roughrider team that won 17 games this season.
A Casey Mulcahy bases-loaded walk pushed the winning run across in the top of the seventh inning in Shawnee’s 4-3 win over second-seeded St. Marys in a Division II sectional final at Ed Sandy Field on Wednesday.
Miller threw four shut-out innings and struck out four Rider batters to earn the win despite an array of curveballs and ephus-like pitches that floated into the zone.
The contrast between hard-throwing starter Corey Wilder and MIller’s soft-tossing had the Riders lunging.
“We’re grooving on a fastball pitcher and then they come in with someone who does a really good job of throwing curves and junk offspeed stuff,” St. Marys head coach Dave Huber said. “We as a team had to do a better job of adjusting to that. There’s no doubt about that.”
St. Marys centerfielder D.J. Manning lined a pitch over the short wall in left center field to lead off the bottom of the first inning off starter Corey Wilder.
“D.J. started us out great with the home run,” Huber said. “We had the momentum going.”
St. Marys scored two more runs in the third inning before Miller came into the game.
Shawnee scored single runs in the second, fourth, fifth and seventh innings to rally back.
Shawnee advances to the Bluffton district, where the Indians will play the winner of Bellevue and Lexington on Thursday, May 17 at 5 p.m. Wapakoneta will play Tiffin Columbian on May 17 at 2 p.m. at Bluffton in the other district semifinal game.