Dragons’ Berdine tosses 1-hit shutout in first varsity start

Warren Area High School sophomore Ben Berdine fires a pitch during the sixth inning of Saturday’s game against Slippery Rock. Berdine, making his first varsity start on the mound, fired a 1-hit shutout as the Dragons blanked the Rockets in 6 innings, 10-0.

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 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.

Ryan Arnold and the Dragons beat Cathedral Prep 5-4 on Thursday.

But much more than that was his demeanor on the mound, something teammate and Millersville University commit 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

that allowed two runs to score, and Ryan Arnold and Lance Baldensperger followed with back-to-back RBI base hits to make it 4-0, as the Dragons made the Rockets pay for the miscue.

“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, once again doing all of their 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. Canisius commit Aidan Morrison 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. The Dragons showed off the length of their lineup against the Rockets, evidenced by Arnold, the No. 9 hitter, who led them 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 to get out of his only jam of the day. He 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.

Outside of two 1-run losses, Warren (4-2) has outscored its opponents 45-10.

“We’re all staying positive,” Cummings said. “It’s fun. It was a beautiful day out today and 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

WARREN (10)

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

Slippery Rock

Caldwell (L) 2 3 4 0 1 3

Bortmas 2 7 4 4 1 2

Thompson 1 1/3 4 2 2 1 1

Warren

Berdine (W, 1-0) 6 1 0 0 1 6

– – –

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.

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