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Admirals need just one hit to top Wayne 2-1 in region quarterfinals

NICHOLASVILLE — Danville had one hit against Wayne County.

The hit came when it mattered most.

Danville topped the Cardinals 2-1 thanks to a patient approach at the plate, a complete game on the mound from Cayden Shaver and a timely single from Ethan Wood.

Wayne County starter Kameron Gehring was nearly unhittable — he tossed six shutout innings.

But the Admirals had a plan against the breaking-ball pitcher, and it worked.

“He did an awesome job. Battled his butt off, battled the whole game,” Danville head coach Paul Morse said of Gehring. “He kept us off balance with a lot of breaking balls, curve balls, sliders. He pitched us backwards, I think we only saw about 10 fastballs the whole game. But he did awesome. With the pitch count limit, you have to work guys like that and we did. That was our key, we made him throw a lot of pitches early and made them get to their second guy.”

Gehring walked Jacob Crank to start the seventh inning, and that’s when his day ended due to the 120-pitch limit. Crank stole second, Gabriel Ruiz came in and gave up a single to Wood, ending the game.

“We didn’t have that many bad at-bats,” Morse said. “They pitched around a lot of guys in the middle of our lineup and we just couldn’t get that hit with a guy on base. I made a stupid call one time that probably cost us, but our guys kept battling to the end. I was proud of them.”

Wayne opened the scoring in the first inning with a double steal, but after that, Shaver was nearly unhittable on the hill.

“They got one run with that double steal, and early in the game we’re going to trade an out for a run,” Morse said. “We didn’t know that run was going to be big at the end of the game. But (Shaver) pitched great, he’s 10-0 with a great ERA. That’s impressive for a kid who hasn’t pitched high school baseball before.”

Shaver completed the game with 12 strikeouts, giving up just four hits and three walks.

Morse said some early-tournament jitters were likely the cause of his team’s slow start at the plate, but he said his team stuck to the plan and worked pitch counts throughout the game.

“I’m sure there were nerves. I’ve been to 15 or 16 region tournaments and I was nervous,” Morse said. “You take a young group in to something they’ve never been to before. I think Jacob Crank as a freshman is the only one to play in a regional tournament. I think there were nerves early for all of us, but they battled through it and Ethan had a big hit there.”