SHENANDOAH — Chase Shiltz and Jon Birchard combined to give up just five hits to Shenandoah here Monday in a 6-1 Hawkeye 10 Conference victory over the Mustangs.
Shiltz had a no-hitter going through three innings of work, but had walked one batter and hit four others before head coach Steve Birchard went to his son Jon in relief. Jon Birchard gave up five hits, striking out one and hitting one in four innings of work.
Coach Birchard said he planned to use Shiltz for just a couple of innings, in order to keep his arm fresh for games later in the week.
“Chase was fine — they weren’t hitting him,” coach Birchard said. “Our plan was to have him throw a couple of innings, and if he was low on his pitch count, we’d go another inning. He was OK after two. Third inning he got up there. He was walking guys, hit guys.
“I didn’t realize he had a no-hitter when I took him out. I wouldn’t have kept him in anyway, because we need arms.”
Shiltz exited the game with a 4-0 lead, as the Panthers scored one run in the first inning and three more in the second.
Cole Crawford led the game off with a walk and advanced on a groundout before scoring on a Nate Haley single.
In the second inning, Brandon Phipps was hit by a pitch followed by a Trey Benson walk. Conner Pals singled to load the bases and then Crawford singled to bring in a pair of runs.
Senior Trevor Luther then hit an RBI single to give Creston the 4-0 lead.
The Panthers made it 6-0 in the top of the fifth inning, as Crawford reached on an error that allowed both Phipps and Benson to score.
Shenandoah answered in the bottom of the fifth inning, as the leadoff batter reached on a hit by pitch, followed by back-to-back singles. Jackson Baker drove in the lone Shenandoah run.
But with Birchard throwing strikes on the mound, inducing weak-hit balls, the Panthers were able to hold on for the win.
“We played good defense,” coach Birchard said. “Garret Taylor had a couple of nice running catches. Brandon Phipps made a couple of nice plays at third. Nate came off the bag at first and made a tag. Defense performed pretty well. I was impressed with our defense tonight. That’s nice to have the defense come around.”
Birchard said Shenandoah starting pitcher Jose Rendon got stronger as the game went along, making it more difficult for the Panthers to get the timely hits they needed.
“Credit their pitcher,” he said. “He was living on the fastball, then in the middle innings got his curveball going and we chased him a little. By the end of the game, he was on with both of his pitches.”
Creston, now 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the Hawkeye 10, returns to action Wednesday at home against Southeast Polk with the recognition of the five straight Hawkeye 10 Conference championship teams.
Former Panther head coach Vic Belger, father of current Southeast Polk head coach and former Panther Scott Belger, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Southeast Polk assistant coach Dave Hartman is also a former Panther coach.
“We’re excited to be hosting them and play some very tough competition, show people we can play with them,” Birchard said. “We’ll show our appreciation for those guys and also show our pride in the present program.”
The Creston JV team improved to 3-1 on the season with a 12-1 win over Shenandoah on Monday.
Jaden Driskell pitched all six innings for the Panthers, surrendering just three hits and striking out six.
At the plate, Driskell helped his cause with three hits and three RBI. Brody Frain added three hits with two RBI. Cody Crawford hit two doubles in the game, while Gavin Woods and Brendan McDowell each drove in one run.
Creston 6, Shenandoah 1
R H E
Creston 130 020 0 — 6 10 1
Shen 000 010 0 — 1 5 2
Chase Shiltz 1BB 3K 4HBP, Jon Birchard (4) 1K 0BB 1HBP and Kadon Hulett. Jose Rendon 4BB 7K and Kyle Owens. W — Shiltz. L— Rendon. HR — none. 3B — none. 2B — Cr: Trevor Luther 1, Brandon Phipps 1. RBI — Cr: Cole Crawford 2, Luther 1, Nate Haley 1. Multiple hitters — Cr: Conner Pals 2, Luther 2, Phipps 2.