MONROE — Pitching is at a premium for just about everyone, even perennial contender Masuk.

With six games jammed into just seven days because of the early rainouts, the Panthers needed someone to eat crucial innings. Figuring he could help out, senior Luke Shaffer volunteered to take the mound. The only problem was, Shaffer hadn’t pitched in nearly two years.

In the end, it didn’t matter.

Masuk received a much-needed lift from Shaffer, who twirled a four-hit shutout in a 10-0 rout of Staples on Tuesday at John Giampaolo Field.

“With all these games in a row, we were talking about him coming out of the bullpen at the start of the season,” Panthers coach Ralph Franco said. “He might turn himself into a starter after today’s game.”

Added Shaffer: “I said, ‘Hey, I can pitch. I can do it if you need me to.’ I came out today and tried my best.”

Shaffer started at catcher last year and hadn’t pitched since sophomore year at the junior-varsity level. Nevertheless, Staples barely touched him.

The Wreckers struck out 10 times, and made a mess in the field with seven errors.

“Right now,” Wreckers coach Jack McFarland said, “we’re not hitting the ball like we should. In the end, we’ll produce. We’re just a little off.”

Like everyone else, Staples wasn’t able to spend much time outside before Opening Day because of the weather. It’s contributed to a slow start for the Wreckers (1-2), who were shut out for the second time in their first three games.

“We got a real late start. It’s just our third time outside,” McFarland said. “It’s been a real funky year. We got five scrimmages canceled, just like everybody else.

“We feel like it will come together.”

The hectic preseason certainly hasn’t bothered Masuk (3-0), which answered questions about its lineup with another big day at the plate. Helped out by Staples’ rough day in the field, the Panthers scored three runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

“That was one of the biggest question marks coming into the season,” Franco said, “was that we had lost a lot of big sticks. The younger guys are stepping up and doing their job.”

Five different Panthers drove in runs in the nine-hit effort. Designated hitter Jack Rose produced an RBI double in the fourth to make it 2-0, and drove in another run in the fifth. Third baseman Kevin Papscoe matched Rose with two RBIs.

With a hearty dose of run support, Shaffer held the Wreckers’ bats in check. The right-hander allowed only one hit over the first four innings, and walked only three in a solid 103-pitch effort.

“I was [using] a curveball every once in a while and a changeup here and there,” Shaffer said. “Other than that, it was just a fastball.”

Second baseman Josh Wittenberger got Masuk on the board in the third inning with a double off southpaw Jack Portman.; @DougBonjour


STAPLES 000 000 0—0 4 7

MASUK 001 333 X—10 9 0

Records: Staples 1-2; Masuk 3-0. Batteries: S—Jack Portman (L), Sam Robin (4) and Matt Stone; M— Luke Shaffer (W) and Enzo Merlonghi.