SHAPE sweeps Kaiserslautern to remain unbeaten
By GREGORY BROOME | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 2, 2014
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- The SHAPE Spartans knew a successful journey into the DODDS-Europe Division I baseball depths of Germany would be difficult.
They've decided to have one anyway.
The Division II Spartans stunned their upper-division hosts on Friday afternoon, routing the Kaiserslautern Raiders 17-0 in the opener and completing the sweep with a 6-5 win in the nightcap.
"I'm pleasantly surprised at how the bottom half of our lineup stepped up," SHAPE head coach Scott Coon said. "And weren't intimidated by a D-1 team."
Far from it.
The severity of the Spartans' first-game stomping surprised both squads. SHAPE shoved one run across the plate in the first inning and held the home team scoreless in the bottom half of the frame, seemingly establishing the evenly-matched showdown expected between the two unbeaten teams.
That trend didn't hold.
The Spartans plated seven runs in the next inning, an outburst sparked by a three-run, bases-loaded double by Armond Griebe. As SHAPE stacked up scores, Spartan ace pitcher Clay Coon hung zeroes on the increasingly frustrated Raiders.
Austen Eperjesi went 3-for-4 and drove in four runs in the opener, standing out among a lineup packed with productive Spartans.
"We came in here like we come into every game," Eperjesi said. "We always come ready to play and always are prepared to win."
Coon, an All-Europe hurler with a collection of effective pitches that includes a knuckleball, struck out eight Raiders and yielded just one hit in three shutout innings.
"You've got to just keep attacking the batters, keep my balance with off-speed pitches," the senior pitcher said. "Pretty much have to keep pumping strikes."
The nightcap was more in line with both teams' expectations. Kaiserslautern unleashed its pent-up offense on Spartan freshman pitcher Chris Cheadle, scoring four runs in the opening inning en route to an early 5-1 advantage.
But SHAPE was undeterred. The Spartans drew walks and rapped a handful of hits in their half of the third inning, manufacturing a rally even in the absence of a centerpiece hit like Griebe's from the prior game. The Raiders trailed by a run by the time they recorded the frame's long-deferred third out.
With DODDS-Europe's two-hour time limit weighing on their brims, the Raiders launched two unsuccessful comeback attempts. Kaiserslautern runners reached second and third with one out in the fourth inning and another Raider reached third base in the fifth; both times the home team came away empty as the freshman Cheadle coaxed key outs. A hypothetical sixth-inning rally was denied by the clock.
Kilian Knight scored twice for the Raiders.
Already guaranteed at least a .500 weekend in Germany, the Spartans will travel down the autobahn to face defending Division I champion Ramstein in a doubleheader Saturday. The Raiders have a quick turnaround of their own, travelling north to Netherlands for a Saturday date with AFNORTH.