Kenn Kasparek's ability to work out of a jam has served him and the High Desert Mavericks well this season.
Kasparek struck out eight and tossed a two-hitter for his second career complete-game shutout Tuesday as the Mavericks tolled to a 9-0 rout of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.
A 2008 12th-round pick, Kasparek (6-1) has posted a 2.11 ERA while winning his last six decisions. He's fourth in the California League with a 2.34 ERA for the Class A Advanced Mavericks.
"I think just working out of jams and a lot of help from my defense has played a huge role," Kasparek said. "The offense getting on the board early is a huge swing for you. It makes it a little bit easier to pitch, you don't have to be so perfect or so fine. I think as a team we've been solid."
The 24-year-old right-hander issued a leadoff walk in the third inning to Beau Brooks and a single to Jon Townsend but fanned two to escape unscathed.
"I think me and [catcher] Trevor Coleman were on the same page all night," Kasparek said. "I didn't have my sharpest stuff early on, but as the game went on my stuff got better. You walk leadoff guys and there's your trouble right there. I really had to bear down right there. That was one of the key points in the game for me."
Kasparek, whose other shutout came on Aug. 3 for Class A Clinton, was 10-6 with a 2.41 ERA in 26 Midwest League starts last season. While those numbers would please most pitchers, he felt he had more work to do.
"One of the key things is my changeup," Kasparek said. "Last year, it wasn't an effective pitch and it was something I worked on in the offseason. In Spring Training, I got to show it off to [West Tenn pitching coach] Lance Painter and he told me it improved quite a bit. I've been trying to throw it more because at this level you need three pitches."
Denny Almonte and Dennis Raben helped stake Kasparek to that comfortable lead. Almonte homered and scored twice, while Raben -- who's batting .365 in 12 games since a promotion from Clinton -- contributed two hits and two runs scored.
Rian Kiniry had the other hit for the Quakes, a leadoff single in the ninth.