Nate Haley and Garret Taylor saved the day for the Creston baseball team here Wednesday night, and Cole Crawford picked up the save on the mound as the Panthers defeated Shenandoah 7-5.
Creston improves to 7-7 for the season and 5-4 in Hawkeye 10 Conference play, while Shenandoah drops to 6-5 overall and 3-5 in conference play.
The two teams combined to score 10 runs in the first inning, knotted at 5-5, and neither team scored again until Creston pushed one across in the fifth inning and added another in the sixth.
Haley gave up five runs on four hits, one error and one walk in the first inning, and worked out of jams in the second, fourth and fifth innings, but kept the Panthers in the game.
“A lot of times a guy wouldn’t be in the ballgame after a five-run inning, but I felt like we haven’t been up yet, I thought we were going to score some runs,” Creston head coach Steve Birchard said. “I was hoping we’d be able to score five, but you never know. Didn’t know we’d score five right away. He battled back.”
Haley pitched five innings, giving up nine hits and three walks, while striking out seven.
After loading the bases with one out in the second, he worked his way out of that jam with a pair of strikeouts. In the fourth inning, he stranded runners at second and third by inducing an inning-ending grounder. And in the fifth inning, he allowed the first two batters to reach second and third, but used two strikeouts and a pop up to end the inning.
“He had a couple of situations where he needed those outs,” Birchard said. “He couldn’t even let them move the ball, and he got a pop up or a strikeout. And that’s what you have to do. You have to get your outs yourself to take pressure off the defense.”
After Briar Evans hit an RBI-single in the first inning, Haley pounded a two-RBI double into center field to cut the lead to 5-3. Taylor later hit an RBI-single into center field to tie the game at 5-5 in the first inning.
Haley then smacked a one-out double deep into center field in the bottom of the fifth inning to get things started for the Panthers.
After Brandon Phipps drew a two-out walk, Taylor hit a single to the opposite field, allowing courtesy runner Brody Frain to score from second base, pushing the go-ahead run across the plate.
That’s when Birchard went to lefty Cole Crawford to pitch in the sixth inning to try to preserve the lead.
Crawford went three up, three down with a pair of strikeouts in the sixth.
Keaton Hulett smoked a double to the fence in center field, scoring Crawford in the bottom of the sixth to add an insurance run.
Crawford then went three up, three down again in the top of the seventh inning to preserve the win.
“Big extra hit there,” Birchard said of Hulett’s RBI-double. “Cole has really become that guy to go to for us. He comes in, throws strikes and makes people miss. So that extra run meant a lot to us, because you never know what can happen.”
Creston now turns its attention to Glenwood, which comes in to today’s matchup with a record of 9-1 overall and 5-0 in conference play. The Rams are ranked fifth in Class 3A.
Tonight’s game with the Rams is the “Battle Against Cancer” game. The Panthers will wear special camouflage uniforms, and Evan Taylor, brother of Garret Taylor and a cancer survivor, will throw out the first pitch. Representatives from Relay for Life will also be on hand, selling luminaries.
Junior varsity action begins at 5:30 p.m. with varsity to follow.
The Creston JV team rolled to a 22-2 win over Shenandoah here Wednesday.
The Panthers scored nine runs in the second inning and 13 in the third inning.
Colton Bolinger pitched all four innings, allowing just three hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
Bolinger also went 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs batted in. Kadon Hulett drove in two runs.
Garret Taylor led the team with three hits. Jon Birchard also finished with two hits.
Chase Shiltz, Taylor, Brandon Lee and Cody Crawford each finished the game with one RBI.
Creston 7, Shenandoah 5
R H E
Shenandoah 500 000 0 — 5 9 2
Creston 500 011 x — 7 6 1
Michael Cisernos 1K 4BB 2HBP, Zac McCoy (6) 0K 2BB and Sean Skillern. Nate Haley 7K 3BB, Cole Crawford (6) 3K 0BB and Zach Powers. W — Haley. L— Cisernos. SV — Crawford. HR — none. 3B — none. 2B — Cr: Haley 2, Keaton Hulett 1. RBI — S: David Hogue 1, Jose Rendon 1, Tyler Lorimor 1. Cr: Haley 2, Garret Taylor 2, Hulett 1. Multiple hitters — S: Jackson Baker 2, Hogue 2. Cr: Haley 2, Taylor 2.