HARWICH, Mass. — Check out this stat from the University of Southern Maine’s 4-0 victory Wednesday over Suffolk University in a first-round game of the NCAA Division III New England Regional.

Huskies pitcher Shyler Scates threw 85 of 113 pitches for strikes.

Due in large part to Scates’ efficiency, the top-seeded Huskies (32-13) will play Salem State (26-13) in a winners’-bracket game at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. The Vikings beat MIT 6-2 in another first-round game of the eight-team, double-elimination event.

“You never want to get in the losers’ bracket when you have a one versus eight (seed),” said USM Coach Ed Flaherty. “Shyler’s the perfect guy for this game. You know what you’re going to get with Shyler. There isn’t any wondering if he’s going to throw strikes.”

Scates (6-1) went the distance and allowed six hits. He didn’t walk any batters and struck out six. In addition, Scates allowed only three Rams to advance as far as second base.

Scates has pitched 67 innings this season, walking three and striking out 58.

“I thought how I always think – just go out there and throw strikes,” he said. “I was going to mix it up a little more in the first inning than I usually do.

“They’re kind of a jumpy team, but I settled in there and got it done.”

Arguably Suffolk’s best opportunity came in the first inning when it placed runners on first and second with two outs. But Scates retired Luke Ronchi on a foul pop.

“He’s a strike-thrower,” Flaherty said. “He keeps the ball down. He’s learning to use his breaking pitch a little better. He can throw a change-up.

“Every now and then he comes with an overhand fastball which changes the eye level of the hitter.”

Scates’ teammates appreciate his efficiency because it keeps them alert.

“You pretty much know the ball’s going to be in play from the moment he steps on the mound,” said shortstop Sam Dexter. “You have to be on your toes when a guy like Shyler’s pitching.”

The Huskies didn’t exactly rake starter Josh Desai of Suffolk (18-25), but they still emerged with a 4-0 lead after three innings.

Jake Welch and Brandon Martins began the second with soft singles, and Nick Bowie dropped down a bunt. But when first baseman Jon Lapolla made an errant throw to Desai covering, everyone was safe.

Nick DiBiase grounded into a run-scoring fielder’s choice and, after Dexter struck out, the game’s most bizarre play followed.

On a ball-three pitch to Paul McDonough, catcher J.C. Collette dropped the ball, then threw it over Desai’s head for an error that enabled Martins to walk home.

USM added two runs in the third, which began with Devin Warren and Dylan Morris being hit by pitches.

Welch’s bloop single loaded the bases and Martins followed with a solid RBI single to center.

DiBiase’s sacrifice fly gave the Huskies a 4-0 lead.

From there, Scates took over.

“I keep things really simple,” he said.

“I have since high school. I throw the ball downhill. I really don’t overpower the ball so I’m trying to place it more than the power guys.”


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