On a day so cold that even the major leaguers said ‘no’, Loramie’s Jared Middendorf tossed the early gem of the season in a shutout over rival Russia.
Ft. Loramie – When Ft. Loramie freshman Jared Middendorf retired Russia’s Deion Puthoff for the final out of Monday’s 3-0 win over the Raiders the clock read 6:40 pm. About average for a 7-inning high school baseball game.
But the thermometer read 33 degrees, fahrenheit. Anything but average.
In fact, it was so cold in Ohio Monday afternoon that the Cleveland Indians postponed their home opener with the Boston Red Sox. Ironically, the temperature on the lakefront was exactly…33 degrees.
But it didn’t deter Middendorf, a 5’11” lefthander who soft-tossed his way to a stunning gem of a win over the rival Raiders…a 1-hit shutout in which that one lone hit was a ball hit so slowly to second base that the Russia hitter outran the ball and the throw to first base.
He didn’t throw hard, in deference to Raider starter Bryant McCarty, who threw with more velocity, and more than well enough to win for five innings, giving up just one run on six hits during that span. But the cold hard fact about baseball is…beware the crafty lefthander!
“He is a crafty lefthander,” said Loramie coach Bill Sturwold, rolling his eyes over any question about weather, temperature, or any degree of difficulty brought on by one or the other.
“Jared lives for this. Baseball’s the only sport he really plays and he knows what’s going on out there. The base runners they had he kept close to the bag. He did a nice job.”
It was so cold that neither team could really mount much of an offensive threat. If they’d sold popsicles at the concession stand they could have stacked ’em on the counter. No need for refrigeration. The bats were just as cold.
But to their credit, Loramie did amass nine hits for the afternoon, and just enough offense in the fifth inning to score pinch runner Aaron Plas from third base on a wild pitch and a contested play at the plate. The Redskins added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth to pad Middendorf’s lead, but that fact turned out to be academic.
The freshman lefthander came out in the top of the seventh to retire the first two hitters, then have a throwing error by shortstop Connor Rose put a runner on first, before retiring Puthoff for the final out. Regardless of who you were rooting for, everyone breathed a sigh of relief and headed for the nearest space heater.
“Actually, it was tougher on the fans than it was on the kids,” said Sturwold, downplaying the impact of the cold. “That was a heckuva’ of a baseball game. How many errors were there…two? That happens on a sunny day so weather’s not an object. We wait all winter to play and we’re going to play baseball.”
Well, yes and no. Middendorf did admit to having trouble feeling the ball. Cold causes numbness, and numbness makes you lose touch with things. Check the label on an ice pack.
“I was a little cold,” said Middendorf, breathlessly. “But I was more nervous at the beginning than cold. But as the game went on I realized that I could hang with those guys. The two extra runs in the sixth were nice because it gave me some extra room, a little insurance.”
Loramie finished with 3 runs on 9 hits and committed one error.
Russia had that one lone hit, only five base runners, and likewise, committed one error in the field.
Middendorf struck out a few, walked a couple, hit a couple, and benefited from a good defensive effort behind him. Third baseman Tanner Rosengarten and Rose both were good when needed. And in retrospect, Sturwold’s observation about crafty lefthanders brought to mind another, Andy Long, who barely threw 70 miles per hour, and yet pitched the Redskins into the 2007 Division final, and their first state title.
“He may not throw as hard as Andy did,” shrugged Sturwold. “He may someday. But he’s got great mound presence. He did a good job today.”
He did a great job, Bill. One-hit shutouts rarely happen…even on a sunny day!