TAMPA — Wharton was well aware of the fact that on Tuesday longtime Jefferson coach Pop Cuesta was one win from 600 for his career.
And the Wildcats were determined for that story to wait another day.
“It’s nice to not be No. 600,” Wharton pitcher Shaun Rubin said. “For us, we didn’t want to be No. 600 so it was encouragement for us to win and not be written up in the papers, oh, ‘Jefferson beats Wharton; Cuesta gets win No. 600.’ ”
That story is not, in fact, being written, thanks in large part to a complete-game shutout from Rubin as he struck out eight Dragons and received phenomenal defensive supports to beat Jefferson 1-0. The Wildcats clinched the Pool C title while the Dragons, after allowing only one run in three games, advance as the wild card.
Wharton (9-3) knew it had better jump on Jefferson pitcher Corbin Olmstead early, and the Wildcats executed that plan to perfection. Leadoff hitter Brett Kaminski singled to leftfield, and two batters later, junior Tuck Neuhaus, a Louisville commit, drove him in with a triple. And that was all Rubin, a Harvard commit, needed.
“With all these guys that throw with a little velocity, you’ve got to get to them early, don’t let them get in there, lather up and get settled,” Wharton coach Scott Hoffman said of Olmstead. “You saw by the third, fourth inning, he did get in his rhythm and it was difficult, tough sledding.”
Olmstead gave up only one other hit after the two in the first inning and struck out a season-high nine. Jefferson (9-3) had two good scoring opportunities. The first was on an Olmstead single in the second inning, but he was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double.
The next batter, Nelson Maldonado, then doubled to center but was left stranded.
And then in the bottom of the seventh, Ryan Jones and Olmstead hit back-to-back singles and Rubin walked Maldonado after working the count full to load the bases with one out. But an infield fly and a strikeout later, and the game was over.