Dragons’ Berdine tosses 1-hit shutout in first varsity start
Warren sophomore Ben Berdine is no longer the Dragons’ best-kept secret.
Making his first career varsity start on the mound, Berdine was dazzling, tossing a 1-hit shutout as the Dragons rolled to a 10-0, 6-inning win over Slippery Rock on a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon at Legion Field.
“I was a little nervous at first that I might not do well,” he admitted. “But after the first-inning, I was fine.”
That might be an understatement.
The numbers speak for themselves – one hit allowed, one walk and six strikeouts against a Slippery Rock team that came into the game with a record of 5-1 and averaging 7.8 runs per game.
But much more than that was his demeanor on the mound, something teammate Austyn Cummings alluded to.
“It’s his first start and he was totally relaxed” said Cummings, who finished with a pair of hits and an RBI. “At one point he looked over at the softball field and said ‘looks like someone just hit a dinger.’ He was just so relaxed.”
While Berdine was doing his thing on the mound, the potent Dragon lineup got in a groove.
Putting up four runs each in the second and fourth innings.
With two on and two out in the second, James Swanson reached on an error t
“We were able to jump on them after they made that error,” said Warren coach Rick Eaton.
Slippery Rock starting pitcher Zach Caldwell lasted two innings, but the Dragons found more success against his replacement, Mike Bortmas, in the fourth.
The Dragons once again did all of the damage with two outs.
With two on, Cummings drove an RBI single to right, which was followed by an RBI base hit from Mitch Grosch. Aidan Morrison than cleared the bases with a 2-run, opposite-field triple that made it 8-0.
The top five hitters in the lineup – Baldensperger, Cummings, Grosch, Morrison and Micah Passmore, all had two hits, but this is a lineup that is stacked one through nine. That was evident on Saturday, as Arnold, the No. 9 hitter, led the team with three hits.
“Everyone knows their spot,” Cummings said. “I know kids are going to throw me outside. Today I hit two balls to right, and that was my first time this season. Everyone knows their role, whether it’s, ‘I know I have to come up and hit first-pitch fastball’, or ‘I need to take this pitch, we have to work the count a little bit.'”
Added Eaton: “We had a bunch of line drives today.”
While the Dragons were hitting balls hard left and right, Berdine was in cruise control.
In the second, he worked around an error and a walk, getting out of his only jam of the day. and didn’t give up his first hit until Ian Balquist’s single with two outs in the sixth.
“He pitched outstanding today,” Eaton said. “He commanded the zone and we made all the plays. That’s the kind of baseball you have to play to be successful at the high school level. He did exactly what we asked him to do and our defense stood up and we broke out the bats.”
Baldensperger’s RBI single in the fifth made it 9-0 and Passmore’s sharp single brought in Cummings to invoke the 10-run rule and end it in the sixth.
The Dragons’ (4-2) entered the season with high expectations, and through six games, appear to be hitting their stride.
Outside of two 1-run losses, they have outscored their opponents 45-10, and they return to action today at Harbor Creek.
“We’re all staying positive,” Cummings said. “It’s fun, it was a beautiful day out today. Everybody got here two hours before the game. We were ready to go.”
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SLIPPERY ROCK (0)
Balquist cf 3-0-1-0, Thompson ss-3b 2-0-0-0, D. Duffalo c 2-0-0-0, Willison lf 2-0-0-0, A. Duffalo 3b-rf 2-0-0-0, Caldwell p-rf 1-0-0-0, Thompson 1b 2-0-0-0, Allison 2b 2-0-0-0, Cygan ph 1-0-0-0, Bortmas rf-p 1-0-0-0, Totals 18-0-1-0
Baldensperger cf 4-1-2-2, Cummings 1b 4-2-2-1, Grosch 2b 3-1-2-1, Morrison c 4-0-2-2, Passmore 3b 2-1-2-1, Rafalski ss 3-0-0-0, Berdine p 2-0-1-0, Swanson rf 3-1-0-0, Arnold lf 3-2-3-1, Totals 28-10-14-8
Slippery Rock 000 000 – 0 1 2
Warren 040 411 – 10 14 1
SB – R. Arnold (W) 2; 3B – Morrison (W)
IP H R ER BB SO
Caldwell (L) 2 3 4 0 1 3
Bortmas 2 7 4 4 1 2
Thompson 1 1/3 4 2 2 1 1
Berdine (W, 1-0) 6 1 0 0 1 6
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JV: Warren 11, Slippery Rock 10
The Dragons also broke out the lumber to win the JV game.
J.T. Blum had a monster game at the plate, going 4-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. Tyler Gustafson was 2-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored, while Ethan Wilson, Hunter Loomis and Alex Borger all delivered two hits each.