ELIDA — Shawnee’s Jarin Bertke came out slicing the plate with his breaking ball.
And when the right-hander did it for seven straight innings, it meant Elida was in for a long day.
Bertke fired a 5-0 shutout to help Shawnee knock off Elida in the Division II baseball sectional championship game Friday at Ed Sandy Field.
Bertke spent the afternoon throwing his breaking ball for strikes and kept his fastball low and on the corners.
He went all seven innings, giving up four hits. He struck six and walked two.
Bertke threw 87 pitches, 59 for strikes.
“Right when I started warming up in the bullpen I felt good,” Bertke said. “I knew I was going to have a good game and everyone had confidence in me. … I would say I threw 35 to 40 percent curves.’’
Added Shawnee coach Chad Spencer, “He (Bertke) was in control of the zone all day.’’
Elida coach Todd Grapner was impressed with Bertke’s outing.
“Jarin threw really well. Hats off to him,” Grapner said. “I think he painted the outside corner all day and I didn’t think we made great adjustments.’’
Shawnee (21-6) advances to the district semifinals against Clear Fork, an 8-4 winner against Celina, at 6 p.m. Thursday at Heidelberg University in Tiffin.
Elida, which won 12 of 15 down the stretch, is 18-8.
Elida pounded Shawnee 9-2 in the regular-season matchup.
But this time around, that game meant nothing.
Shawnee started Caden Vermillion in Wednesday’s sectional-opening victory against St. Marys. With him on mandatory rest, it was Bertke who got the ball.
Brayden Lybarger started for Elida. He went 4 1/3 innings, giving up five runs, three earned, on six hits. He struck out four and walked two.
Lybarger threw 77 pitches, 47 for strikes.
For Shawnee, Cedarville-bound shortstop Kale Ebling went 2 for 3 with a double.
Jacob Cowan was 2 for 3.
With two out and no one on in the first, Ebling singled. He came home on a double to center by Jake Hutchins to make it 1-0.
Then, with A.J. Brown at first, after a walk, and Hutchins at third, Spencer pulled an aggressive move.
With Lybarger holding the ball on the mound, Brown took off for second.
Lybarger spun and fired to second, but it was too late to get Brown.
And when Brown was sliding in safely at second, home came Hutchins off the double steal to give Shawnee a 2-0 lead.
Shawnee added two unearned runs in the second.
Cowan singled and Logan Maxwell reached on a sacrifice bunt/throwing error by the Elida catcher.
Bertke’s sacrifice fly to left gave the Indians a 3-0 lead.
Maxwell scored from third on a wild pitch and it was 4-0 in the second.
“Those two innings, we had plays that we made all year, we just didn’t make them today,” Grapner said. “That’s the hard part when you don’t play your best it’s a little frustrating.’’
In the fifth, Ebling doubled to start the inning. He went to third on a groundout and scored on a squeeze bunt single by Brown.
That pushed the Shawnee lead to 5-0.
That was more than enough for Bertke, who started the vast majority of hitters with strike one.
“Our coaches preach first-pitch strikes and that’s what I tried to do,” Bertke said.
Added Spencer, “The key was first-pitch strikes. I think of their first 12 hitters, he had a first-pitch strike on every hitter but one. That sets up all your pitches.’’
The Shawnee defense turned three double plays to cut down any Elida attempt at a rally.
Shawnee heads to the district tournament playing some of its best ball of the year.
“We’ve had a pretty nice run the last couple of weeks against some good teams,” Spencer said. “I think our kids are hungry. I think the key to a good team is to continue to improve through the season and this team has.’’