The Creston baseball team dropped to 6-7 for the season and 4-4 in the Hawkeye 10 Conference after being swept by Carroll Kuemper Catholic in a varsity doubleheader here Tuesday night.
The Class 2A seventh-ranked Knights took game one by a score of 10-1 and won the nightcap 9-4.
Creston’s starting pitchers, Keaton Hulett in game one and Brandon Phipps in game two, both sailed along after surrendering two runs in the first until they ran into trouble in the middle innings.
Hulett surrendered three runs in the fifth inning after Phipps had brought Hulett around to score in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to 2-1.
Kadon Hulett came in to pitch in relief in the sixth inning and gave up four runs in the inning and one more in the seventh.
Phipps also settled in after giving up two runs in the first inning and a total of six hits over the first two innings. Over the next three innings, he retired all nine batters he faced.
Briar Evans smacked a line drive two-run home run over the left field fence in the bottom of the fifth inning to put Creston up 4-2.
But Kolby Hilgenberg answered with a leadoff home run in the top of the sixth inning, sparking a Kuemper rally that plated seven runs in the inning.
“They’re a good hitting team, and we sort of minimized a few of their innings,” Creston head coach Steve Birchard said. “They’re just too good a team to shut down. Our pitchers don’t shut people off. They work their butts off to do what they can, but we just can’t shut people down.”
Birchard was pleased with the defensive effort by the Panthers, though, as Cole Crawford and Trevor Luther both made diving catches in the outfield and traveled a long way to track down fly balls.
“We made some nice defensive plays — Cole Crawford’s playing a good center field, Trevor Luther’s playing a nice right field, Briar Evans is playing his butt off at short,” he said. “We’ve got some guys doing some nice things defensively, but we need to stop the bleeding some times, and it just didn’t happen.”
Kuemper scored seven of its 10 runs in the first game with two outs.
“That’s an issue when you can’t get that third out, whether it’s they’re bunting the ball or just hitting the ball around,” Birchard said. “You’d like to think you can get that third out and get out of the inning.”
Even though a second doubleheader sweep likely takes the Panthers out of the Hawkeye 10 Conference title race, Birchard said he still feels like there is a lot his team can accomplish this year.
“We were playing good baseball, but we just couldn’t hang with them,” he said. “Bottom line, they’re a good team. I think we have good players, too. I think we’re going to be fine. We just need to understand we’re good enough that maybe we’re not going to be able to win the conference after another doubleheader sweep by one of the better teams, but we can still make some noise in the postseason.”
Creston hosts Shenandoah, 6-2 overall and 3-2 in Hawkeye 10 play, tonight with junior varsity action at 5:30 p.m. and varsity to follow. Creston will host Glenwood in the “Battle Against Cancer” game on Thursday.
Kuemper Catholic 10, Creston 1
R H E
Kuemper 200 034 1 — 10 12 2
Creston 000 100 0 — 1 3 2
Chris Halbur 8K 2BB, Riley Bach (7) 1K 0BB and Alex Drees. Keaton Hulett 4K 2BB, Kadon Hulett 3K 4BB and Zach Powers. W — Halbur. L— Keaton Hulett. HR — KC: Halbur 1. 3B — none. 2B — KC: Bryce Wessels 1, Halbur 1, Logan Nolting 1. RBI — KC: Halbur 2, Nolting 2, Wessels 1, Carter Ludwig 1, Ben Hicks 1. Cr: Brandon Phipps 1. Multiple hitters — KC: Halbur 3, Kolby Hilgenberg 2, Colby Baumhover 2.
Kuemper Catholic 9, Creston 4
R H E
Kuemper 200 007 0 — 9 11 1
Home 002 020 0 — x4 6 1
Adam Schleisman 2K 5BB, Riley Bach (5) 0K 1BB and Alex Drees. Brandon Phipps 2K 1BB, Cole Crawford (6) 0K 0BB and Zach Powers. W — Bach. L— Phipps. HR — KC: Kolby Hilgenberg 1. Cr: Briar Evans 1. 3B — none. 2B — KC: Drees 1, Hilgenberg 1. Cr: Evans 1. RBI — KC: Hilgenberg 2, Chris Halbur 1, Logan Nolting 1, Nick Greteman 1. Cr: Evans 2, Keaton Hulett 1. Multiple hitters — KC: Hilgenberg 3, Halbur 2, Drees 2. Cr: Evans 2, Hulett 2.