Thomas Jefferson's Stover pitches 5-hit shutout against Ringgold
Dave Stover isn't going to overwhelm many hitters.
But make no mistake about it, the Thomas Jefferson senior right-hander doesn't need — or want — to overwhelm. That's just not his game.
Stover stuck to his meticulous pitching style during Monday's Section 4-AAA game against Ringgold and it resulted in a familiar result — a 4-0 win and a bunch of frustrated opposing hitters.
“He is not overwhelming, but he just does his job,” Thomas Jefferson coach Gregg Fouts said.
Stover did his job quite well against Ringgold.
Stover improved to 2-1. He scattered five hits over seven innings and struck out two. Stover allowed a runner on base in five of the seven innings, but only one managed to make it to third.
“He kept us in the game, and we were able to put together enough offense,” Fouts said.
The win moved Thomas Jefferson (7-4, 6-2) a half game ahead of idle South Park (7-4, 5-2) into second place in Section 4-AAA and a half game behind frontrunning West Mifflin (8-2, 6-1).
The Jaguars are two games ahead of Elizabeth Forward (6-6, 3-4) and Belle Vernon (7-4, 3-4) for the final playoff spot in the section with four games left.
Ringgold coach Mike Sikorski — a hard-throwing pitcher during his days in the Daily News League — couldn't get a grasp on why his players were so ineffective against Stover, who also shut down the Rams a year ago.
“It's hard to say,” Sikorski said. “Maybe it is his release, and that takes away a little bit of the reaction time. He stayed around the strike zone and was consistently around the zone, and he made pitches when they counted.”
Thomas Jefferson provided all the offense Stover would need in the first inning. Jake Benack singled, moved to second on Steve Kunzman's sacrifice, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Eric Fairman's sacrifice fly to make it 1-0.
“It is important to get one across quick, because it kind of sets the tone and gets everybody relaxed and they won't press,” Fouts said.
The Jaguars made it 2-0 off Ringgold losing pitcher Nick Maciejewski in the fifth with the help of a walk, a single and an error by center fielder Nick Fowkes.
“We made a couple mistakes here and there, but we battled all the way until the end,” Sikorski said.
The Rams just couldn't get to Stover, even though they hit the ball hard at times, albeit right at somebody.
“(Stover) lives on the corners ,and he was getting a little frustrated because he wasn't getting the calls,” Fouts said. “For him not to get those calls, he had to bring them in a little bit and got a couple tagged.”
Ringgold had its best chance in the fourth when the Rams put a runner on first with one out. However, Noah Brown was caught stealing second moments before Trevor Tokach walked and Maciewjewski doubled.
“We were just trying to make something happen,” Sikorski said. “He is the fastest kid on our team, and it was one of those things that not many things were going right, might as well try something. It was a perfect throw, so it was one of those things that if it works then great. If it doesn't, then you question it.”
TJ added two more in the sixth off Fowkes to make 4-0. Joe McHugh scored on a wild pitch, and Jeremy Wasik added a sacrifice fly.
“We will take the win,” Fouts said. “It's important to get these kinds of wins.”