Anthony Shew and Keaton Siomkin grew up five minutes away from each other in Mission Viejo, Calif. — but the State College Spikes pitchers didn’t know each other until their first season of professional baseball last summer.
Shew and Siomkin became friends, bonding over their California roots and joking about the stereotype of surfers in their home state. The right-handers laughed about their inside jokes outside the clubhouse after leading the Spikes to a 9-1 win over the Batavia Muckdogs on Thursday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Shew went five scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out seven before Siomkin took over in the sixth. Siomkin allowed one hit and struck out three in two innings of relief in his first appearance of the season.
Shew made his first start of 2017 and worked with catcher Dennis Ortega to build an effective game plan Thursday morning. The right-hander looked to throw fastballs inside to exploit a weakness they saw after the team’s game against Batavia on Wednesday night.
“With my stuff, I usually don’t strike too many guys out,” Shew said. “I look for early, soft contact. It’s usually fastball, changeup for me.”
Still, Shew recorded seven strikeouts during his 65-pitch start. Siomin then took over and turned in an solid effort in relief, throwing 22 strikes out of 29 pitches.
It was an efficient night for the friends with similar backgrounds. Both grew up in Mission Viejo and went to college in the Bay Area. Shew went to San Francisco and Siomkin went to Cal. Both went undrafted and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals days apart last summer.
They started their pro careers together with Rookie-level Johnson City and realized how close they had grown up together.
“I had seen him throw a couple times,” Shew said. “I didn’t really make the connection when we first saw each other back in Johnson City.”
Shew said he thinks they played against each other in an American Legion game. San Francisco and Cal played games, too, but Siomkin didn’t know who Shew was until pro ball.
“I had no idea he even lived right down the street from me,” said Siomkin, wearing a shirt with pineapples on it.
The California natives created inside jokes acting like surfers, calling each other dude and talking about burritos.
“Hey bro, did you see the swell the other day?” Shew said. “Just kind of screw around like that. We’ll talk about beaches that we went to. Hey, did you have the fish tacos yesterday? Or whatever.”
Spikes’ upcoming schedule
Friday: vs. Batavia Muckdogs, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday: at Mahoning Valley Scrappers, 7:05 p.m.
Sunday: at Mahoning Valley Scrappers, 4:05 p.m.
Monday: at Mahoning Valley Scrappers, 7:05 p.m.