Baseball: Jason Meger throws shutout to lead Niles West past Maine East
Updated: May 23, 2012 8:49PM
Picking up the slack for his injured star teammate, Jason Meger pitched a four-hit shutout as host Niles West blanked Maine East 3-0 in a Class 4A regional semifinal Wednesday.
Niles West (25-10) will play tomorrow’s Leyden-Taft winner in the title game at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Wolves shortstop Kevin Ross (sprained thumb), who is batting. 438, could only pinch-run Wednesday and is doubtful to be in the lineup Saturday.
Meger, who has received scant run support this season, improved to 5-5 and lowered his ERA to 1.85. The sixth of his seven strikeouts was the biggest when he fanned Cory Evans, the Blue Demons’ top hitter(.405), with runners on second and third and two outs in the fifth inning.
“I felt ready to go today,” said Meger, a senior right-hander. “My curve was better than it had been, and my fastball has been there all year. I was really determined to get (Evans) out, and went with curves. We had to shake off Kevin being out, and we feel like we have enough to win anyway.”
Evans (6-8, 2.75) was also stingy on the hill, holding Niles West to three hits and one earned run. He singled, walked and stole a base. Evans, a four-year stalwart and speedy shortstop,, led Maine East (12-19) to eight more wins than a year ago.
“We just had trouble scoring. It’s tough, but it happens,” said Evans. “We’ve been taking too many pitches and not attacking.”
Niles West scored twice in the second inning on Meger’s hit and stolen base, Seth Rosenberg’s walk, Evan Athanasiou’s RBI groundout and an error.
Junior co-ace Kyle Colletta, who threw a two-hit shutout in Niles West’s 6-0 victory over Maine East back on April 12, is slated to pitch on Saturday.
Ross hurt his thumb sliding into third base on Vernon Hills’ prescription turf last Saturday. One of the state’s premier players, Ross is a Michigan recruit who has been heavily scouted by big-league organizations in advance of the annual first-year player draft next month.
“It’s really hard not to be playing. I want to get back as soon as possible,” said Ross, who will be re-examined Friday.