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Left-hander Shields too much for Tornado

MLB draft candidate tosses 2-hitter, fans 11 in 5-0 playoff win
Members of the Butler baseball team meet with coach Josh Forbes following the Golden Tornado’s 5-0 WPIAL 6A playoff loss to Mt. Lebanon. John Enrietto/Butler Eagle

UPPER ST. CLAIR — With David Shields on his game, it was difficult for Butler to stay in the game.

The Golden Tornado hung in for a few innings, trailing only 1-0 in the fifth before Mt. Lebanon used a four-spot in that fifth frame to post a 5-0 WPIAL 6A quarterfinal baseball victory Monday afternoon at Boyce-Mayfield Park.

Shields, a 6-foot-2 left-hander, is projected to be selected during the first few rounds of Major League Baseball’s amateur draft this summer.

“I’m a high school baseball coach and I don’t know too much about that stuff,” Blue Devils coach Patt McCloskey said. “All I know is that 40-plus scouts have been around to see him pitch on multiple occasions this year.

“That’s their job and I’m sure they wouldn’t be out here wasting their time if they didn’t believe in him.”

Shields wasted little time dispatching the Tornado bats.

Butler’s Noah Collins waits for his turn at the plate during the Golden Tonado’s 5-0 WPIAL 6A quarterfinal baseball playoff loss to Mt. Lebanon. John Enrietto/Butler Eagle

He threw 91 pitches — 64 for strikes — striking out 11 and walking none.

“That’s tough on a high school hitter,” Butler coach Josh Forbes said. “You have a guy throwing hard like that, coming right at you, mixing his pitches ... You wonder, is this guy ever going to take a break?

“No doubt, he’s the real deal. He doesn’t give hitters much room to breathe in there.”

Yet eighth-seeded Butler (6-13) hung in with the top-seeded Blue Devils (17-4).

Mt. Lebanon broke the ice in the third inning against Tornado starting pitcher Nolan Stefaniak. Nolan Smith drew a one-out walk and scored from first on Graham Keen’s double to deep center.

Shields faced the minimum 12 hitters over the first four innings. Mavrik Clement lined a one-out single to left in the second, but his pinch-runner was picked off first.

Butler had only two baserunners all day. Carson Bish lined a single to center to lead off the fifth and moved to second on a passed ball. But Shields calmly struck out Trent Best and got Andrew Lucas to ground out to shortstop to end the threat.

“David knows he has a good defense behind him and that’s important,” McCloskey said. “When they make plays, they cut down on his pitch count and enable him to complete games like this.”

The Blue Devils scored four times in the fifth to finally break the game open. Stefaniak pitched the first four innings, striking out five and throwing 74 pitches. Forbes put Kyle Casteel on the mound to begin the fifth.

“Nolan did a great job matching zeroes for a while,” Forbes said. “This was a hot day and Nolan looked like he was spent. I felt like we needed a fresh pitcher.”

A walk and hit batsman set up Jake Tinnemeyer’s RBI single to to left. Two other runs crossed the plate on fielder’s choices that resulted in no outs. Nate Girod’s run-scoring double to right completed the uprising.

Butler says goodbye to seniors Alex Catalfano, Noah Collins, Bish, Nickles Smiglewski, Noah Collins, Andrew Lucas and Liam McElroy. McElroy missed the last few games of the season with a knee injury.

The Tornado dropped their final five games.

Butler 000 000 0 — 0 2 1

Mt. Lebanon 001 040 x — 5 6 0

WP: David Shields 7IP (11so, 0bb). LP: Nolan Stefaniak 4IP (5so, 3bb).

Butler (6-13): Mavrik Clement 1B, Carson Bish 1B.

Mt. Lebanon (17-4): David Shields 2B, Graham Keen 2B RBI, Jake Tinnemeyer 2-1B RBI, Maddox Yost 1B RBI, Nate Girod 2B RBI.

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