A typical high school baseball game features 21 outs, across seven innings. With the shorter length of game, as well as a general population of batters who lack the plate discipline of your garden variety MLB backup infielder, its more common for pitchers to last the entire game, particularly when all their pitches are working.
That being said, what Hannibal (N.Y.) High pitcher Jake Shortslef achieved on May 14 was still absolutely remarkable. Across a complete game, 3-1 victory against regional rival Jordan-Elbridge, Shortslef struck out 20 batters.
As one might expect, Shortslef’s 20-strikeout gem set a new Hannibal record for strikeouts in a game, tying a New York Section III record with two other pitchers. Those performances -- by West Genessee (N.Y.) High’s Kevin Krause in 1991 and Mexico (N.Y.) High ace Jeff Hains in 2006 -- are among the only other recorded performances where a pitcher has struck out nearly the entire slate against him. In his performance, Shortslef walked precisely zero batters. In a remarkable twist, Shortslef isn't even the most successful strikeout pitcher in his own family; his sister, Marlena Shortslef, once struck out 22 batters in a victory for the Hannibal softball team.
Yet Shortslef’s mastery of the Jordan-Elbridge lineup goes beyond the simple stats. As noted by the Syracuse Post-Standard, the game in question was played in downright winter conditions, with sleet and snowflakes coming down on the teams throughout the game.
That Shortslef could maintain his control so masterfully under those conditions is almost absurd. Then, consider that Shortslef wasn’t even feeling on top of his game, either.
“To be honest with you, I wasn’t feeling 100 percent,” Shortslef told the Post-Standard. “I wasn’t expecting a good outing. I got the first nine outs and said, let’s see if I can go with this.”
If there was any question about just how incredible Shortslef’s outing was, one need only consult the opposing coach.
“Our league is filled with solid pitching,” said Jordan-Elbridge coach Eric Short, “but Jake Shortslef’s performance was as dominant as we have seen. He had total command of both his fastball and breaking ball and could throw either for strikes late in the count which really had us off stride.”