Shaw High School sophomore Keith Meier missed most of this season with an elbow injury.
Two weeks into his return, the 6-foot-4 left-hander seems to be doing just fine.
Meier entered the game in the fourth inning and shut down Belle Chasse to give the Eagles a 14-8 victory in the regular-season finale for both teams.
“Whenever coach calls on me, I’m ready to go,” Meier said. “I felt really good in the bullpen. I had all my pitches working, but thought I did really well with my curveball and fastball.”
The teams combined for 23 hits, including 14 through the first three innings.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight, a grind,” Shaw coach Kirk Bullinger said. “I told the guys that from the get-go. We just had to persevere and keep attacking offensively. We had to keep the petal to the medal and force the issue and have good at-bats. They did probably the best job they have done all year.”
Shaw was clinging to an 11-8 lead in the fourth inning when Meier entered the game with the bases loaded and no outs.
He struck out the first two batters he faced and got the third one to fly out to end the inning. Meier allowed just one hit in his four innings, striking out six of the 12 batters he faced.
“That’s big time for a sophomore to be able to do that,” Belle Chasse assistant coach Wesley Mire said.
It was just the type of outing Bullinger wants to see continue as the Eagles (21-11) prepare for the Class 5A playoffs that begin this week.
“Keith’s been a guy we have been missing all year,” Bullinger said. “Ever since he’s come back, he has been a shot in the arm to this pitching staff. Against John Curtis he came in and quieted things for us and allowed us to preserve that win. Today he stops the bleeding and settles things down for us. He threw four flawless innings as far as I’m concerned. When you have a guy coming out of the bullpen doing that, it is going to lead to a lot of success.”
Shaw designated hitter Matt Keller went 3-for-5 for the Eagles, who outhit the Cardinals 15-7. Every batter in the Shaw lineup had at least one hit. Caiden Reed, Kyle Flettrich, Scott Ledet and Juwan Orticle had two hits each.
“We have been swinging the bats well,” Bullinger said. “I think the guys have bought into the approach we want them to have at the plate.”
Jace Nini hit a solo homer in the third inning. Ledet had four RBIs, driving in two runs with a double in the first inning and two more in with a single in the fourth.
The fourth inning was the pivotal inning for Shaw, which brought 10 batters to the plate and scored six runs to erase an 8-5 deficit.
Meier did the rest.
His teammates are glad to see him back.
“Keith is young, but he has a great presence up there,” said Keller, who also had two RBIs. “He is a big guy and he has a big presence and teams get intimidated by his size. The main thing about him though is he throws a lot of strikes and the defense makes plays behind him.”
A.J. Paige and Jon Jones had two hits each for the Cardinals (19-11). Charlie Belair homered in the second inning.
It was the fifth game in eight days for the Cardinals, who beat John Curtis, Lake Area (twice) and Thomas Jefferson before Saturday’s loss.
“It was two pretty good teams playing and we both hit the ball,” Mire said. “We won four out of five since last Saturday so we have to be pleased with that.”
Dakota Landry, Jones and Braiden Ussey all pitched for the Cardinals.
Jared Giambelluca started for Shaw, before giving way to Austin Jackson and then Meier, who sealed the deal.