A five-run third inning propelled Creston’s baseball team to a 13-3 win over Clarke here on Friday, after Clarke had kept pace with the Panthers through the first two and a half innings.
The Indians took an early lead after Chasen Selsor led the game off with a single up the middle and Gable Reece hit an RBI double to put Clarke up 1-0 after one.
But, Creston responded with four runs in the bottom of the second inning, as Jon Birchard, batting in the nine-spot, hit a two-run single up the middle. Later in the inning, senior catcher Zach Powers hit a solo home run to left field to cap off the scoring for the inning.
“That’s nice to get a little production from the bottom of the order,” head coach Steve Birchard said about his son’s RBI hit. “Able to find the grass, and that’s important.
“Powers always hits the ball hard,” Birchard continued. “I thought with the wind blowing out like that, we could have three or four guys that could get the ball out of here. That was nice for Zach, because he normally hits the ball on a line and keeps it down.”
But, the celebration after Powers’ home run was short-lived, as Clarke answered back with two runs in the top of the third inning to cut the lead to 4-3. Landon Spurgin hit a two-run single for the Indians.
Creston responded quickly, though, posting five runs on four hits in the bottom of the third inning, including another two-run single from Birchard. Powers also hit a two-run single in the inning, and Brandon Phipps drove in one run.
The Panthers put up two runs in both the fourth and the fifth innings to end the game after five innings, 13-3.
“I just told the guys, I was a little concerned, because we don’t always adjust to some of the guys who aren’t throwing all that hard,” Birchard said. “And we sort of didn’t at first, but we hit the ball square enough that we did get the hits. I was definitely pleased with that.”
Creston used a committee approach on the mound, as Cole Crawford and Nate Haley each pitched two innings and Phipps threw the final inning. The three pitchers combined to allow just five hits and issue two walks, striking out six.
It’s all part of Birchard’s plan to prepare his team for postseason play.
“Before the game, the districts came out today and we learned we were going to host,” he said. “I said from here on out, we want to sharpen ourselves and get better and better. As far as pitching, we did.”
See related story for the district groupings.
Creston, now 9-10 for the season, hosts Red Oak at home tonight with JV action beginning at 5:30, followed by varsity. The Panthers host Atlantic in a varsity doubleheader Tuesday and hit the road to Clarinda on Thursday, before returning home to host future Hawkeye 10 Conference member Council Bluffs St. Albert on Saturday.
Creston also walked away with a big junior varsity win over the Indians here on Friday, winning 16-1.
Garret Taylor had a big night at the plate for the Panther JV team, hitting two triples and driving in a total of five runs. Brody Frain drove in two runs. Colton Bolinger finished with two hits.
Chase Shiltz pitched three innings, striking out seven and walking three, while Brandon Lee struck out one and walked one in one inning of work.
Creston 13, Clarke 3
R H E
Clarke 102 00 — 3 5 2
Creston 045 22 — 13 12 0
Dustan Van Loon 1K 3BB 2HBP and Damon Helgevold. Cole Crawford 3K 0BB, Nate Haley (3) 3K 2BB, Brandon Phipps (5) 0K 0BB and Zach Powers. W — Crawford. L— Van Loon. HR — Cr: Powers 1. 3B — none. 2B — Cl: Gable Reece 1. Cr: Crawford 1, Haley 1. RBI — Cl: Landon Spurgin 2, Reece 1. Cr: Jon Birchard 4, Powers 3, Briar Evans 1, Trevor Luther 1, Phipps 1. Multiple hitters — Cl: Chasen Selsor 2. Cr: Powers 3, Haley 2, Luther 2, Birchard 2.