Trey Shields tossed six scoreless innings as Kane County beat Beloit, 8-3, on Saturday in Game 1 of their Midwest League second-round playoff series.
Shields (1-0) allowed two hits and matched a season high with seven strikeouts, walking two. The 22-year-old right-hander retired the last seven batters he faced.
"I was just trying to mix up my pitches and get in a pitcher's count and then throw a put-away pitch, and it just seemed they were chasing it," he said.
"I didn't feel any pressure because it was the playoffs, but I knew coming into the game I was going to have to match up with Zach (Ward) and raise the level of my game. I was definitely pumped up. Anytime you face a great pitcher like Zach, how can you not be pumped up?"
Shields enjoyed his pitchers' duel with Ward and was impressed with the right-hander's performance.
"It was fun, how can you not like pitching in a game like this? We were fortunate to get a couple of clutch hits off Zach, because he was outstanding tonight," Shields said.
The Cougars picked up one of those hits in the fifth, as Anthony Recker led off with a walk and moved to third when Ward threw away a pickoff attempt. After consecutive groundouts by Raul Padron and Jose Pineda, Isaac Omura walked and advanced to second on defensive indifference. Justin Sellers followed with his only hit, a two-run single to center field.
Kane County broke the game open in the seventh as it sent 11 men to the plate, scoring six times on four hits and four walks. Omura singled twice and drove in two runs, while Matthew Sulentic smacked a two-run triple.
Omura went 2-for-3 with a walk and scored twice and Sulentic had two hits and a run scored for the Cougars.
Ward (0-1) took the loss, allowing two runs on three hits in six innings. The 22-year-old righty struck out eight and walked three, but has lost his last five decisions.
Edward Ovalle's RBI double in the eighth broke up the shutout for Beloit, one of their five hits.
Kane County hosts Game 2 at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday.