NEW BREMEN — New Bremen’s Clay Bertke went from flirtling with a perfect game against the St. Marys baseball team to being in danger of losing the lead in the top of the sixth inning with the tying runs in scoring position and nobody out.
But Bertke overpowered the next three Roughrider hitters to maintain his shutout and steer the Cardinals to a 2-0 win over St. Marys on a blustery Monday night.
St. Marys at New Bremen baseball photos:
Bertke struck out 11 and allowed just two hits in his complete-game victory on the mound. The senior right-hander didn’t give up a baserunner until Mason Gross reached on an error to start the sixth inning and went to second on an errant pick-off throw that hit Gross in the cleat and skipped into foul territory down the right field line.
The next batter Nathan Vogel ended the no hitter with an opposite field line drive into left field that put runners on the corners. Vogel swiped second base to put two runners in scoring position with nobody out.
Bertke went to his fastball, striking out Jared Knous and Tristan Becker on fastballs above the belt and got Dirk Fenwick to pop out to shallow left field to end the threat.
“I was able to go back to the wind-up, where I’m more comfortable,” Bertke said. “I was able to get a little more on it.”
“He had thrown some pitches by then, but that’s just who he is,” New Bremen head coach Josh Bowersock said. “He’s a competitor and make the pitches that are needed.”
The two teams combined to make just one error despite playing in the windy conditions in the outfield. Bertke said the defense behind him was a big part of his outing.
“I got a lot of help from my fielders,” Bertke said. “Without them, it could have been a much different ballgame.”
St. Marys got the tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh after Isaac Fitzgerald smoked a single back up through the box with one out, but St. Marys harmlessly popped out to left field and second base to end the game.
“He was hitting his spots really well tonight,” New Bremen head coach Josh Bowersock said. “When you can locate your fastball, it just sets everything else up.”
New Bremen’s David Zirkle was key in the Cardinal offensive attack, with two of the Cardinals’ three hits. He doubled twice, scored a run and drove in a run.
“We’re counting on some big things out of him,” Bowersock said. “He kind of struggled out of the box, but on Saturday he had a really nice second game of the doubleheader and I think that got him going and hopefully he can continue that the rest of the year.”
While St. Marys didn’t have a baserunner until the sixth, New Bremen had baserunners in six of the seven innings.
New Bremen broke through in the bottom of the second inning. David Zirkle doubled to start the inning, and moved to third base on a ground ball to second base. Zirkle came home on an errant pickoff throw that made it 1-0.
The Cardinals added another run in the third.. Luke Schwieterman led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and came home on Zirkle’s RBI double that plugged the gap in left center field.
St. Marys senior southpaw Austin James shined on the mound, throwing four and one-third innings of one-run relief. He came on with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second with just one out. He got out of that jam and then gave up just a single run in the third. James struck out 10 batters, including striking out the side in the bottom of the fourth.
“Austin pitched well enough to keep us in the game,” St. Marys head coach Dave Huber said. “You could see that with the score.”
James wiggled out of trouble when the Cardinals put runners on the corners with one out in the bottom of the fifth by getting a double play on a liner hit to right fielder Nathan Vogel, who doubled up the New Bremen baserunner on first base to end the inning.
St. Marys opens Western Buckeye League play at Van Wert tonight. New Bremen travels to Anna.