April 19th, 2018

Littlefield throws a gem, St. X blanks Jeff.

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor


Littlefield throws a gem, St. X blanks Jeff.
St. X's Aric Lyons at the plate / photo by Conor Revell

St. Xavier’s Andrew Littlefield battled with Jeffersonville’s (Ind.) Gabe Bierman in a classic pitcher’s duel Thursday night.  

It was Littlefield and his Tigers that escaped with a 1-0 victory over the visiting Red Devils at Carl and Rosemary Field to keep their undefeated season alive.

“The first time he went through the order he only threw two or three curveballs,” St. X head coach Andy Porta said. “The second time through the order he threw his changeup quite a bit. He still needs to get better at throwing first pitch strikes. If he was perfect right now, I’d be worried, but he still has room for improvement and knows that we will be working on throwing first pitch strikes.”

Littlefield pitched 6 &1/3 shutout innings and allowed only three hits, struck out five, and walked three.

“I was able to throw my off-speed pitch for strikes,” Littlefield said. “My curveball was really on today, I didn’t throw my changeup much, but when I did, it was pretty good. Also my defense behind me did a good job of backing me up.”

The Hanover signee issued his third walk in the seventh and that’s when Porta decided to shutdown the senior ace.

“When he came off in the sixth, we asked him if he could do one more,” Porta said. “I can’t remember his words, but it was like ‘I think so.’ I asked him again and he said ‘I want one more.’ I said okay that is a better reaction. He was at 90 something pitches and we decided that if he got a runner on that we were going to take him out. I wish he would have gotten a complete game, but we had confidence in Brycen (Harkins) and he got the job done.”

Littlefield had his own words.

“I don’t think I was ready to leave,” Littlefield said. “I know I didn’t want to leave, but I think coach made the right decision.”

Brycen Harkin came in and struck out the next two hitters to end the ballgame.

“I was mainly trying to throw strikes,” Harkins said. “I started off with fastballs and once it was 0-1 or 0-2, I would throw my off-speed pitch (curveball or changeup). I was hitting my spots really well and it worked for me.”

St. X (12-0) scratched their lone run in the third.

“You have to use the small ball game against a pitcher like that,” Porta said. “After an inning or two you realize that one run is going to be really important in a game like this. We gambled a bit during this game and had two runners thrown out at the plate. We won 1-0 but it would have been nice to have a one or two run cushion.”

Leighton Keller singled; Harkins had a bunt single, Littlefield laid down a sacrifice bunt, Aric Lyons grounded out, and Trey Sweeney walked to load the bases.

“I wasn’t really trying to bunt for a hit,” Harkins said. “I was trying to move Leighton (Keller) over so that he could be in scoring position. But, it worked.”

Cam Scheler walked in Keller for the lone run.

“I worked a full count,” Scheler said. “He was throwing a lot off-speed pitches and trying to slow us down. I just stayed patient and he threw a ball up and in.”

Bierman, an Indiana signee, threw a complete game (six innings) for Jeffersonville (6-4) and allowed one run, three hits, struck out four, and walked four.

Keller, Harkins, and Bryce Elmore were the only Tigers to record a hit.

Jack Ellis, Blayden McMahel, and Trey Bottorff recorded one hit apiece for the Red Devils.  

St. X is off to their best start since the 2008 season, that team didn’t lose until their 13th game, and the squad can surpass that season opening streak winning a double-header in Cincinnatti Saturday.

“We have such good chemistry and so many interchangeable parts,” Porta said. “Yesterday we threw six pitchers in a seven inning game against Floyd Central. We planned that going in. There were five changes in the lineup, we were putting in DHs, and re-entering. Being able to do that makes us a better team.” 

 

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