Stoller twirls four-hitter as Cougars open with 7-0 shutout
Wednesday, April 02, 2014 12:00 AM
By John Parent
Nathan Stoller delivers a pitch during the fifth inning of Van Wert’s 7-0 win at Spencerville on Monday night. Stoller tossed a four-hit shutout, striking out 11 in the victory. (Times Bulletin/Pat Agler)
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
SPENCERVILLE — Nathan Stoller used an even 100 pitches to strikeout 11 Spencerville Bearcats as the Van Wert Cougars opened the 2014 baseball season with a 7-0 whitewashing in Spencerville on Monday night.
Stoller was in command from the first batter he faced, getting Bearcat second baseman Jacob Meyer looking on a breaking ball. It was one of two first-inning punch outs that Stoller recorded.
Stoller himself was partially responsible for giving the Cougars an early lead. He drew a one-out walk in the top of the first, then promptly stole second base. Two batters later, right fielder Tyler Williams drove Stoller home with a double to the left-center field gap.
Two-out runs were the order of the day for the Cougar hitters, as five of the seven Van Wert runs scored after the second out of the inning had been recorded.
Stoller continued to use his speed on the base paths to force the issue for Van Wert. In the third, after drawing his second walk of the evening, Stoller advanced to second base on an errant pick-off attempt, then came around to score when the next pitch was in the dirt. Spencerville catcher Hunter French smothered the ball, but Stoller broke for third, and French’s throw sailed into left field bringing the second Cougar run home.
Spencerville tried to mount a comeback in the bottom of the inning, as Meyer started the frame with a ringing double to deep right center. Stoller bounced back, getting the next two hitters to fly out to right field before stranding the Bearcat base runner with a strikeout of Spencerville’s Wyatt Kroskoup to end the inning.
The only other jam that Stoller found himself in came in the fifth, and it happened after he retired each of the first two batters on strikes. Meyer touched him again for a single and Mitchell Youngpeter worked a walk, putting Bearcats at first and second with two away. Stoller came back once agian and retired the cleanup hitter, Joel Shimp, with yet another strikeout, his eighth of the game to that point.
“He got a good fastball and a curveball, and we’re trying to develop a changeup a little bit,” Van Wert coach Charlie Witten said of Stoller’s dominant effort on the mound. “He has confidence in both of his pitches (fastball and curve) and in any count, he can throw those for strikes.”
The Cougars put the game out of reach in the top of the seventh, when they scored three times off a pair of Spencerville hurlers. Ryan Stoller’s RBI ground out brought in Brant Henry with the fifth Cougar run of the day and catcher Sean Miller delivered a clutch two-out single that drove home a pair to make it 7-0.
“We had four or five two-out RBI, which is huge,” Witten added. “Especially the first inning, to get a guy on base and get him home with two outs, that’s huge. Then Sean Miller had a big at bat there in the last inning to open (the score) up.”
In the bottom of the inning, Nathan Stoller was back on the hill and mowed through Spencerville bottom three hitters in order to finish off the four-hit shutout.
“It’s nice to get a good first game in. We played well defensively, I thought, and threw strikes, which is always a key for us,” Witten continued.