SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — The late May version of Jarin Bertke is the best version anyone, including Bertke himself, has seen so far this high school baseball season.
And that was a very good thing for Shawnee when the senior right-hander threw a four-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts to help the Indians take a 4-0 win over Celina in a Division II sectional championship game at Shawnee on Friday.
Bertke struck out six of the first seven batters he faced, got out of a bases loaded situation in the fourth inning, then finished off the complete game shutout.
“Today is probably the best I’ve felt all year. Normally, I wouldn’t strike out a lot of kids. I’m more of a contact pitcher. But once I struck those guys out I was like, ‘Oh, I must be throwing good today,’ ” he said.
Bertke and Shawnee first baseman/pitcher Caden Vermillion were starters on Shawnee’s state semifinalist basketball team. So working his way up to his best level later in the baseball season is nothing new.
“Every single year I’ve played baseball here we’ve had a deep basketball run. I’ve never had a whole season to prepare. As the season goes on I’m still progressing into baseball shape and it shows up in tournament a lot,” Bertke said.
Shawnee coach Chad Spencer said, “He (Bertke) has come a long way since March and I think we saw a little bit of that today.”
Shawnee’s hitters started fast, too, when they put two runs on the scoreboard in the first inning.
Logan Maxwell crushed a triple to rightfield to lead off the bottom of the first inning and the next batter, Sage Ebling, singled to score him.
Bertke followed with a single, and after one out, Derek Lyon singled to score Ebling for a 2-0 lead.
Shawnee’s lead grew to 3-0 in the fifth inning when Maxwell hit his second triple of the game and Ebling singled to score him again. The Indians’ final run came when pinch-hitter Derek Rhodes walked, a sacrifice bunt by Anthony Best moved pinch-runner Chase Sunderland to second base and Tyler Windau’s single drove him in.
Shawnee beat Celina 7-4 during the regular season. And with a 20-6 record, the Indians had almost three times as many wins as the Bulldogs (7-18). But Spencer said those things were out of sight and out of mind on Friday.
“This time of year you don’t overlook anybody,” he said.
Now Shawnee can look ahead to another Western Buckeye rematch in its district semifinal against Elida at 4 p.m. Thursday at Bluffton University. The Bulldogs defeated Galion 8-6 in their sectional championship game.
Maxwell, who went 3 for 3, with two triples and a single before being intentionally walked in the sixth inning, said, “Our goal was always to win 20 games. With our team, I think making it to state was a realistic goal. Right now, we’re on the path with winning the sectional final and still have games to go.”
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.