Shively’s Gem Highlights No. 20 TU’s Sweep of Cougars
UPLAND, Ind. – Luke Shively fired his first collegiate shutout, blanking Mount Vernon Nazarene over nine dominant frames of a 1-0 victory for Taylor in Monday’s opener. The Trojans then completed the four-game series sweep of MVNU with a 9-2 win in the finale.
TU entered Monday’s action ranked No. 8 in the NAIA in team earned-run average and held the Cougars to one earned run in 16 innings of Monday’s doubleheader sweep. Taylor’s hurlers smothered the MVNU bats all day, yielding only six hits in 57 at bats and issuing just two free passes compared to 12 strikeouts.
Shively (4-0) stole the show in the opener, completing the nine-inning affair without allowing a run to record his fourth win of the season. The junior, who entered the game leading the NAIA with a .116 average against and 3.49 hits allowed per nine innings, surrendered only three hits and one intentional walk in the outing.
Shively struck out six in the 114-pitch effort and allowed only two Cougars to reach scoring position without a single runner reaching third base. The righty was especially stingy down the stretch, sitting down the final 10 MVNU batters of the contest.
Nick Rusche needed just one pitch to provide all the offense Shively needed, leading off the bottom of the first by depositing the opening pitch over the fence in left-center field for the 1-0 lead.
Joe Moran had two hits and a steal in the win, with Kade Vander Molen adding a double.
The Trojans kept rolling in the nightcap, using a six-run third inning to erase an early deficit and sent TU on its way to a 9-2 victory and its 16th-straight win. Camden Knepp and Rusche ignited the game-changing rally with doubles, before five-straight Trojans reached safely with two outs. Ben Kalbaugh capped the rally with a two-run single that opened the 6-2 lead.
TU cruised from there, finishing the 9-2 win with two hits each by Rusche, TJ Bass and Conner Crawford. Rusche scored twice from his leadoff slot, with Crawford, Moran and Kalbaugh each knocking in a pair.
Matt Dutkowski (3-1) earned the win on the bump with just 67 pitches over six efficient frames. The freshman righty gave up one earned run on two hits and one walk over six innings, fanning four and retiring 16 of the final 18 hitters he faced, without allowing a runner to reach third base over his final five innings.
Taylor improved to 23-6 overall and 12-0 in Crossroads League play with the sweep. The Trojans also upped their win streak to 16, matching the program’s longest since winning 24-straight games during the 2011 campaign.
No. 20 TU is set to return to play on Friday, March 26 with a 3:00 pm doubleheader at RV Huntington (15-5, 8-4 CL).