By almost any measure, Valley City State University pitcher Ryan Shaw kept it simple in Thursdayâ€™s 11-2 win over Dickinson State University, the second game of a double header between the teams.
â€śI was throwing fastballs and curveballs, trying to hit my spots,â€ť Shaw said.
Simple as it sounds, it worked. The Blue Hawks were limited to four hits and two runs, only one earned, helping the Vikings split the first two games of a four game series. Dickinson won Thursdayâ€™s series opening game 6-2.
The teams play again today at Charlie Brown Field with a double header starting at noon.
But closing out Thursday, the Vikings clicked on all cylinders.
On the mound, there was Shaw, who looked nearly untouchable for his eight innings pitched.
He kept the ball in the zone, throwing 84 of his 123 pitches for strikes, but his precision kept Dickinson from making good contact, resulting in plenty of easy ground balls or high pop flies for the defense.
It also helped, he admitted, that the Vikings got the offense going as well.
For the first day, the home team played as visitors on the score board, which gave the Vikings the first chance at the plate.
When the Vikings opened up the game with an early rally, it gave Shaw a 5-0 lead before his first pitch.
â€śThat helps everything,â€ť VCSU coach Casey Olney said. â€śIt helps everybody relax. He feels like he doesnâ€™t need to be perfect and what happens is that he winds up pitching better than when he tries to be perfect.â€ť
The game started with leadoff hitter Preston Jensen and finished with ninth-spot hitter Josiah Churchill. Along the way, the team recorded seven hits from the first eight batters.
Dickinson State starting pitcher Erik Bastio was credited with all five earned runs and left the game after only one third of an inning.
By the end of the game, the Vikings had 16 hits, including four doubles. Josh Evans, Casey Clark and Dan Buehner led the team with three eats each.
The Blue Hawksâ€™ four hits came from four different players. They scored once in the third inning after a player reached base on an error and was singled in, and later in the fourth inning after a Blue Hawk walked, got to third on a wild pitch and was singled in.
Shaw was replaced in the ninth inning by Colin Walner, who got three quick outs to end it.
The Vikings, who have played seven games since starting the Dakota Athletic Conference preseason tournament last Saturday, got plenty of milage out of their starting pitchers Thursday.
In addition to Shawâ€™s eight innings, Ronnie Blagg threw a complete game in the seven-inning 6-2 loss.
Though Blagg allowed 10 hits, none of the six runs scored by Dickinson were earned.
The first run of the game scored on a bad throw, which was followed by a four-run inning, in which the VIkings had allowed four runs on only three hits and two errors.
The Vikings kept Dickinson from scoring against until the bottom of the sixth innings, but could only muster two runs in the fifth inning.
Despite Blaggâ€™s loss, Olney said he was pleased with both of his pitchers.
â€śWe just gave Ryan a lot more support than Ronnie, both offensely and defensively, but they both battled and gave us really solid outings,â€ť Olney said.