ELIDA — Shawnee right-hander Kyle Miller has a slow curve.
Then he has a pitch that seems to backfire and crawl its way to the plate.
Miller used all his pitches to throw four shutout innings of relief to guide Shawnee to a 4-3 victory over St. Marys in the Division II baseball sectional finals Wednesday at Ed Sandy Field.
Shawnee won the game in the top of the seventh when Casey Mulcahy walked with the bases loaded to bring home pinch-runner Brandon Kohl and take a 4-3 lead.
Miller then retired St. Marys 1-2-3 in the home seventh to notch the victory.
“I have a fastball, two different speeds of the curveball and a change-up,” Miller said.
But it was the big, slow curve that was the key, as it sliced its way through the strike zone.
“That’s the extra slow one,” Miller said. “I was just trying to throw strikes and let my defense do the work for me.”
Miller gave up three hits in his four innings of work. He struck out five and walked none.
Miller took over in the fourth inning for starter Cory Wilder, who was coming off three-days rest and a 111-pitch, 9-1 win over Celina on Saturday.
Wilder battled his way through three innings and left trailing 3-1. He gave up three runs, all earned, on three hits. He struck out four and walked three. Wilder threw 62 pitches, 33 for strikes.
“I could tell from the beginning I wasn’t feeling great,” Wilder said. “I was just going to try to battle through as many innings as I could. Kyle came in and threw a good game. He hit his spots and changed speeds.”
Shawnee coach Chad Spencer said, “We thought we’d see how he (Wilder) felt and you never know that until you get in game situations. After the third, he was gassed and was struggling a little bit.
“Kyle threw strikes and that’s the key to high school baseball. He’s not afraid to get ahead with his off-speed stuff and I thought it would be a good contrast to go from (the hard throwing) Cory to Kyle. ... Give Kyle credit. He came in pumped strikes.”
Shawnee (14-14) advances to the district semifinals against the Bellevue/Lexington winner at 5 p.m. May 17 at Bluffton University. St. Marys is 16-7.
St. Marys leadoff hitter D.J. Manning led off the game with a home run over the left-center field fence. Shawnee tied the game at 1 in the second when Trey Runneals scored from third on a wild pitch.
St. Marys scored two in the third to pull out to a 3-1 lead.
Shawnee freshman William Kleffner came off the bench and delivered a pinch-hit RBI double to left-center field to bring Shawnee within 3-2 in the fourth.
Runneals’ RBI double tied the game at 3 in the fifth.
Brad Sawmiller (5-3) took the loss in a complete-game effort for St. Marys. He gave up four runs, all earned, on eight hits. He struck out five and walked four. Sawmiller threw 116 pitches, 69 for strikes.
Shawnee heads to the district and should have a well rested Wilder with his 89 mph fastball.
“It’s sweet. It’s good to play a little longer,” Miller said.