Simon helps Keys unlock 10th shutout

Orioles' right-hander bounces back from his worst pro outing

Kyle Simon has struck out 49 batters over 72 2/3 innings. (Robert Gurganus/Four Seam Images)

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | June 25, 2012 8:31 PM ET

When Frederick starter Kyle Simon toed the rubber for the first time Monday, he was very cautious of the 7:15 p.m. ET game time.

After all, his alma mater University of Arizona was one win away from a national championship. With Game 2 of the College World Series against South Carolina starting 75 minutes earlier, he knew he'd have to work fast.

Simon (2-8) allowed two hits and a walk while striking out seven batters over 6 2/3 innings as the Class A Advanced Keys beat the Carolina Mudcats, 1-0, on Monday.

"It was on my mind," Simon said of the College World Series. "It made me try to pitch a little quicker."

Andy Loomis (1-0) fanned one batter over a perfect inning of relief and Ryan Berry retired the only batter he faced in the eighth to pick up his fourth save of the year.

The game was called at the end of the eighth following a 30-minute rain delay. That gave Simon, selected by the Orioles in the fourth round of the 2011 Draft, time to find a TV to watch his Wildcats clinch the NCAA Division I crown.

"It was bittersweet," he said. "They're a great team and I played with almost 75 percent of them last year. I'm extremely proud of them and I'm happy they are bringing a national championship back to Arizona.

"I'm still in contact with four or five of them. They are all great guys."

On Monday, the 6-foot-5 right-hander erased third baseman Travis Adair's throwing error in the first inning with a 3-6-3 double play, and he used a more traditional 6-4-3 twin killing to overcome Jesus Aguilar's infield single to start the second.

Simon set down the next nine batters in a row before Aguilar led off the fifth with a walk. An errant pickoff throw sent Aguilar to third, but Simon elicited a comebacker from Bo Greenwell to keep the shutout intact.

"I did well pounding low down. I threw a lot of sinkers and I was locating my pitches in and out against righties and lefties," said Simon.

"I got a lot of ground balls and the stellar defense made it easy for me."

The only other batter to reach base against Simon was Tony Wolters, who singled on a line drive to right fielder to start the seventh, but was stranded at third base.

"The ground ball to fly ball ratio was 11:0 and it's usually in that range," Simon said of his sinker-first mentality. "I'm a pitch-to-contact type of guy.

"My off-speed was also there tonight when I needed it and I included my changeup to keep them off balance."

The outing was a fine bounceback effort for the right-hander, who allowed a season-high eight runs over 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans last time out on June 13. Smith lowered his ERA to 3.96 in the win.

"I was struggling in the first half with command issues and leaving the ball up, but I'm planning on turning it around," said the 21-year-old native of Long Beach, Calif.

"I just need to keep the ball down, locate my fastball to both sides of the plate and get ahead of batters."

The victory was the third consecutive shutout for the Keys.'s No. 7 prospect Dylan Bundy, Jason Gurka and Clayton Schrader allowed just four hits in a 3-0 win at home over Myrtle Beach on Saturday. Then Tyler Wilson and David Walters combined on a three-hitter in Sunday's 5-0 victory over the Mudcats.

Frederick pitching has thrown 10 shutouts this year, the most in the Carolina League and one more than second-place Myrtle Beach. But the team's combined ERA of 4.00 ranks sixth out of the eighth teams and more than a full run behind the Pelicans.

On Monday, second baseman Ty Kelly was 3-for-3 with a walk out of the No. 3 spot and first baseman Aaron Baker went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Carolina starter Michael Goodnight (2-8) allowed one run on nine hits and two walks over seven innings. He struck out seven batters and lowered his ERA to 4.50 in the loss.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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