Blake Doyle, Shenandoah

Shenandoah junior Blake Doyle delivers a pitch during the win over Clarinda, Tuesday, June 15.

SHENANDOAH – Blake Doyle threw 6 1/3 innings of one-hit baseball in leading the Shenandoah Mustangs to a season-opening 1-0 win over Clarinda on Monday, June 15.

It was the first game of the season for both teams and first competition in more than three months for both schools’ athletic programs.

Doyle was terrific all evening. He struck out five, walked three and hit a batter. He retired the final 10 Cardinals he faced.

“It felt pretty good,” Doyle said. “I don’t know how I did it. I was nervous the first two innings.”

The shutout came against a Clarinda lineup that boasts quite a bit of experience.

“I expect the pitching to be ahead of the bats the early part of the year,” Shenandoah head coach Brett Roberts said, “but Blake just got stronger as the game went. The plan was for him to get through four innings, and then it was five and then it was six. He just kept getting better.”

Nick Mather retired two of the three batters he faced to earn the save.

Shenandoah’s only run came in the third inning. Brody Owen walked to start the inning, went to third on a Cain Lorimor bunt single and then scored on Braden Knight’s sacrifice fly.

“That’s the stuff we should be able to do better,” Roberts said on small ball producing a run. “We just need to stay the course and keep working.”

Owen McCunn finished with two of the four Mustang hits.

Logan Green had the only Cardinal hit, a fourth-inning single. Clarinda managed just six baserunners all game, but Cardinals head coach Rod Eberly is confident his offense will be fine.

“The Shenandoah kids threw strikes and attacked the zone,” said Eberly, “and we hit a lot of lazy fly balls into the wind. They did a great job of not giving us extra opportunities.”

The Mustang defense was strong all evening as well.

Clarinda pitchers Jakob Childs and Wyatt Schmitt nearly matched Doyle and Mather. Childs started the game and struck out six over three innings. He gave up four hits, walked two and gave up the earned run. Wyatt Schmitt came in from there and threw three perfect innings, striking out eight to finish the contest. Eberly said his two pitchers were strong.

“We know what we have with our pitching staff,” Eberly said. “I feel good with our arms and they came out and threw the ball well. Defensively we feel we can be pretty good. Hopefully, we can get the offense ironed out.”

Shenandoah’s win ended a four-game losing streak against Clarinda and earned the Mustangs a conference victory.

“Anytime you get a win in our conference, it’s nice,” said Roberts. “We haven’t beaten those guys for a couple years and last year they really put the screws to us.”

This was the only scheduled meeting between the two conference rivals this season.

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