It's always dangled as a carrot for the Colorado Mesa baseball team's pitching staff: Throw a shutout, and you get to take batting practice the next week.
CMU coach Chris Hanks will admit he's gone back on that reward before, but this season he's upped the stakes — this staff needs two shutouts in a four-game series.
AJ Landis did his part Friday night for the pitchers, throwing seven shutout innings, with Nick Cardinale and Jahred Butler finishing up in a combined two-hit, 12-0 shutout of Adams State at Suplizio Field. It was the third shutout of the season for the No. 2 Mavericks (28-7, 16-5 RMAC).
Now it's up to the rest of the arms this weekend so they can swing the bat.
"We get pitchers' BP if we get two shutouts," Landis said with a grin. "We're all rooting for it now. He's been telling us for four years we were going to have pitchers' BP if we have some shutouts and he's like, 'I'm actually going to keep my word this time.' "
Landis was sharp from the start, retiring 17 straight batters at one point and 20 of the first 21 men in the game.
"I had no idea," he said. "Dang."
Landis (4-1) got the spot start in place of JR McDermott, who is being given the week off.
The senior from Las Vegas struck out seven and walked only one, which ended his string of outs with two gone in the seventh. Jared Gay singled to right to lead off the second and stole second, but that was as far as any base runner got for Adams State (7-28, 4-17) against Landis, who faced only two batters over the minimum.
He struck out the side in the fourth and needed only 86 pitches in his seven innings, 57 of which were strikes.
"He was sharp, huh?" Hanks said. "We're trying to find a couple of guys for the stretch and we're going to give JR a midseason break. ... We want to make sure we have him at the end and we want to have him fresh.
"Landis is a senior, a four-pitch kid. He can have electric stuff. We just want some guys going into the end of the year who have the innings and the confidence. That was good for him."
The offense gave Landis plenty of support, scoring in every inning but the sixth. Five Adams State errors helped the Mavericks, who got three doubles from Dominic DeMarco, who scored after each.
"It always helps, it eases the nerves a little bit when you go back out there and you see a two-spot on the board," Landis said. "Now I can go to work and not have to worry about that side of things, keeping it close. It just takes the pressure off everything."
Aggressive base running early in the game also put pressure on the Grizzlies, who used a half-dozen pitchers. Starter Kolton Bleggi (0-2) committed throwing errors on two pickoff attempts and threw three wild pitches, one of which led to CMU's third run of the game.
In all, the Grizzlies threw six wild pitches, balked once and had three passed balls to aid CMU's offense.
Mesa scored twice in the seventh without a hit — two walks, a pair of passed balls and a throwing error allowed CMU to take an 11-0 lead.
Adams State had a couple of chances to score late, getting runners at first and second with two out in the eight, but Cardinale, who missed two years with arm trouble, struck out Erik Hildebrandt, bringing a roar from the dugout, led by the pitchers.
Butler gave up a one-out double in the ninth, but stranded runners at the corners on a two-out fly ball to right field, preserving the shutout.
And if they can do it again over the next two days, they'll be grabbing bats and batting helmets.
Hanks, who earlier this week said the pitching staff hasn't performed up to its potential lately, used the batting practice as a motivational tool.
"I cut a deal with them this week," he said, vowing to keep his word if they blank the Grizzlies once more. "The old rule used to be one shutout, and I said, no you've gotta go two, man, you've gotta go half the weekend and we'll talk."