COUNCIL BLUFFS — Lewis Central held on to defeat Creston, 4-3, in the opening game of a doubleheader here Wednesday.
The loss ended Creston’s quest for a fifth straight Hawkeye 10 Conference championship.
The game also snapped a seven-game Titan losing streak to Creston going back to a doubleheader split in 2009, when LC pitcher Morgan Means and catcher Allie Martinez were eighth-graders.
The senior duo played a big part in securing a doubleheader sweep, as the Titans rolled 10-0 in five innings in game two.
Martinez, an Iowa Western Community College recruit, went 4-for-6 on the day with a home run in the opener, and Means collected six RBI in the finale after pitching the first-game victory.
The two losses for Creston clinched the regular season Hawkeye 10 crown for Harlan, as the Panthers fell to 10-5 in the conference and 18-13 overall. LC improved to 12-5 in league play and 24-11 in all games.
Harlan leads at 15-1 and Glenwood is second at 12-4.
It ended Creston’s four-year run as conference champs, but coach Mike McCabe said his team did a good job of contending after the loss of all-staters Madison Frain and Katin Briley, and veteran infielder Maddie Haines to graduation, as well as veteran outfielder Brianna Maitlen. Senior first baseman Mackenzie Andreasen and junior second baseman Audrey Fyock are the only upperclassmen in the rebuilding effort.
“I’m proud of our kids,” McCabe said. “A lot of people wouldn’t have given us a chance to be in the hunt in the last three days of the conference season. Mathematically, that (first) game knocked us out, but the kids came away knowing it was a fun, competitive game. We kept battling back, on the road, against seniors who have been through this.
“Next year, people will know we are a team to be reckoned with,” McCabe added.
Lewis Central used two starting pitchers in the twinbill. Means struck out five in a good battle with Panther sophomore Haylee LaMasters in the opener, while freshman McKena Duffek allowed two hits and fanned three to complete the sweep.
“The second game, they jumped on us with a couple of runs in the first inning, and the Duffek girl did a nice job,” McCabe said. “It was one of those situations where, we’re probably not as bad, and they weren’t as good, as it (score) looked.”
One big three-run inning spelled the difference for Lewis Central in winning the tightly-contested opener.
A single and a walk set the table for Martinez and Means in the third inning.
“It crossed my mind to walk Martinez,” McCabe said. “But they had another good kid coming up behind her in Morgan Means. Martinez got a full count, then she just got enough of it to bloop it into left field to score two. Then Means drove her in with a hit on a flair just on the center field side of second base.”
Creston responded with four hits, but only one run on Brenna Baker’s run-scoring base hit in the top of the fourth.
Martinez extended it to a 4-1 lead in the fifth with a line-shot home run that grazed the top of the fence.
“Martinez took a low inside pitch off her shoe tops and deposited it over the left field fence,” McCabe said.
That run proved to be a valuable run for the Titans, as Creston fought back to score twice in the sixth on a dropped fly ball, fielder’s choice miscue and error on a grounder.
Means was hot in the second game. She followed an RBI groundout in the first inning with a three-run homer to straightaway center — her team-leading fourth of the summer — in the third inning, and a double in the fourth that drove in two more.
Taylor Briley and LaMasters had Creston’s only hits against Duffek in the nightcap. Natalie Mostek and Shelby Palser had two hits each in the opener, and LaMasters rapped a double.
Tonight the Panthers host Shenandoah on senior night, honoring Andreasen.
A makeup doubleheader is scheduled at league-leader Harlan Monday night before the regular-season finale at home Tuesday against Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln. The tournament opener at home against Carroll is Thursday.
Lewis Central 4, Creston 3
R H E
Creston 000 102 0 — 3 7 1
Lewis Central 003 010 x — 4 8 3
Cr: Haylee LaMasters 4K 1BB 1 HBP and Natalie Mostek. Morgan Means 5K 1BB and Allie Martinez. W — Means. L— LaMasters. HR — LC: Martinez. 2B — Cr: LaMasters; LC: Molly Cunard. RBI — Cr: Brenna Baker; LC: Martinez 2, Means 2. Multiple hitters — Cr: Natalie Mostek 2, Shelby Palser 2; LC: Martinez 2.
Lewis Central 10, Creston 0
R H E
Creston 000 00 — 0 2 2
Lewis Central 204 31 — 10 9 1
Cr: Haylee LaMasters 3K 2BB, Taylor Briley (4) 1K 0BB and Mostek. LC: McKena Duffek 3K 0BB and Martinez. W — Duffek. L— LaMasters. HR — Cr: Means. 2B — LC. Duffek, Means, Martinez. RBI — LC: Means 6, Duffek 1, Cunard 1, Asia Sockrider 1. Multiple hitters — LC: Martinez 3, Means 2, Cunard 2, Sockrider 2.