VELVA - Velva starting pitcher Drew Effertz and the rest of his Amercian Legion baseball team didn't let squandering a two-run, seventh-inning lead in a game-one loss fester in the back of their minds.
Instead, Effertz erased the heartbreak by throwing a complete-game shutout, scattering five hits and striking out six in a 5-0 Velva victory against Cando in game two of a doubleheader Tuesday. Cando won the first game 8-4.
Effertz opened the game by striking out Cando center fielder Daniel Grande, but ran into control issues in the second and third innings. Although the lanky hurler struggled with consistency early in the game, the defense behind him was able to pick him up. Brad Dean snagged a hot shot to second base off the bat of Cando's Jacob Hagler and doubled off left fielder Jayden Komrosky at first to end the opening frame.
Velva catcher Marcus Mack connects on a two-run single in the bottom of the fourth inning in game one of a doubleheader against visiting Cando on Tuesday.
"I didn't start off my greatest," Effertz said. "I couldn't find the strike zone, but I had good defense behind me. They saved me quite a few times and then I battled through and finished strong."
Effertz found his control in the fourth and retired eight of the next 10 batters. He ended Cando's best opportunity to score by striking out pinch hitter Matt Hunt to end the sixth inning. Cando's top four batters in the order combined to go 1-for-13 with a walk against Effertz.
"They hit the ball hard and luckily it was right at some guys," Effertz said. "You just have to throw strikes and not walk them and good things will happen."
Dean and catcher Marcus Mack led Velva (5-1 overall, 2-1 Section 6) in game two, accounting for six hits, three RBIs and three runs scored. Dean reached base safely in his first three plate appearances, doubling in the second and homering to left-center in the fifth. Mack singled in each of his final three plate appearances and drove in Effertz and left fielder Derek Fahy in the seventh with a hit up the middle. He would score on shortstop Ryan Kuntz's double to deep center.
"I had a good day in the cage and felt good going in," Mack said. "I had runners there and our coach got them in scoring position. I just had to knock them in.
Cando pitcher Brooks Larson suffered the loss, allowing five runs on 10 hits in seven innings.
Catcher Drew Schill was 2-for-3 to lead Cando (2-3, 2-3).
"That's what we talked about in between games," Velva coach Mike Thingstad said. "You have to have a short memory and come out and get ready to play."
The win in game two would have completed a series sweep if not for a seventh inning comeback by Cando in game one. Trailing 3-1 with three outs to work with, Cando brought 11 batters to the plate and tallied seven runs on six hits.
Grande tied the game with a two-run single with one out and Hagler added an RBI double for a 5-3 lead. Three Velva errors in the frame gave Cando hope. A routine grounder to Dean at shortstop went between his legs, allowing two more runners to score. It was the first batter after Kuntz relieved Dean.
Hagler, Larson, Steven Hunt and Schill all recorded multiple hits and Cando finished with 13 altogether.
"We're looking to get guys on base," Cando coach Jesse Vote said. "That's all you can really do. You gotta get two on for sure and we can go from there. They didn't quit. We kept battling and we pushed a couple runs across."
Velva hosts Surrey at 5:30 p.m. today and Cando hosts Nelson County at 5 p.m. Thursday.