As the recent World Baseball Classic demonstrated, the game has become a truly global sport.
The Peoria Chiefs learned this lesson the hard way Wednesday afternoon as Johannesburg-born Tayler Scott combined with closer Nathan Dorris on a three-hit shutout in host Kane County's 4-0 win.
"The fastball was my best pitch today," Scott said. "The two-seamer was working pretty well, along with the changeup. My slider would come and go, but I was able to keep most everything down in the zone."
Scott, who turns 21 on June 1, went a career-best 7 1/3 innings, striking out two and walking two. He gave up just a pair of hits: a two-out single to Nick Martini in the third and an eighth-inning double to Charlie Tilson, his final batter.
Though there's no set path to the pros, Scott's journey has been somewhat longer than most.
"I started playing in South Africa when I was 10 years old and played there until I was 14," he said. "If you really want to try to play, though, you have to go to America -- so we went to some camps and ultimately found a pitching coach in Arizona. I moved to Scottsdale and started going to [Notre Dame Prep] high school in 10th grade.
"It was pretty easy to adjust. I was used to the weather there, and I'd seen things in movies, so it went well."
A fifth-round pick by the Cubs in 2011, Scott made two brief appearances with the Arizona League Cubs that summer before pitching for Boise in the Northwest League last year. The right-hander went 5-1 with a 2.52 ERA and 43 strikeouts over 71 1/3 innings covering 15 starts.
With Wednesday's win, Scott improved to 2-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.84 in seven starts for Kane County.
"The biggest adjustment coming to Kane County was the cold weather early in the season," Scott said. He's fanned 23 and walked 15 over 38 innings this season.
"I'm not a big strikeout pitcher," Scott said. "It's important for me to keep the ball down and get ahead of hitters early in the count."
That plan worked very well on Wednesday, as the Cougars starter set down the first eight Chiefs he faced before Martini's third-inning single. Scott issued a walk later in that frame and a second free pass with one out in the seventh but retired each of the 11 batters in between.
After Scott got Peoria designated hitter Ildemaro Vargas to line out for the first out of the eighth, Tilson ended his day with a double to right field.
"The first pitch to him was down, but the second one was up and got too much of the plate, and he hit it hard," Scott said.
Dorris came on to record four straight outs. He hit a batter and gave up the Chiefs' third hit with two outs in the ninth, but ended the threat by getting Carson Kelly to bounce out. It was the left-hander's third save in as many opportunities. Neither Cougars hurler allowed a Chief to reach third base.
The shutout was Kane County's second of the season. Dorris combined with southpaw Michael Heesch on a five-hit win over Dayton on May 5.
Kane County scored an unearned run in the first on Peoria shortstop Alex Mejia's throwing error and tacked on two more in the seventh as Willson Contreras tripled home Rock Shoulders and scored on Marco Hernandez's single.
Contreras, who went 2-for-4, drove in the Cougars' fourth run on a two-out single in the eighth.
Peoria starter Joe Cuda (2-2) took the loss despite striking out a career-high nine batters. He did not issue a walk but was charged with three runs -- two earned -- on seven hits over 6 1/3 frames.
Wednesday's result left both clubs 18-18 on the season, seven games behind first-place Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League's Western Division. They meet again Thursday in a day-night doubleheader; the first game starts at 11:30 a.m. and the nightcap kicks off at 6:30 p.m.