The Creston Panthers just couldn’t get any breaks to go their way here Tuesday in a 3-1 Hawkeye 10 Conference loss to Glenwood.
Senior Brandon Phipps battled for the Panthers on the mound during the team’s “Battle Against Cancer” fundraiser, throwing 102 pitches and allowing eight hits with no walks and four strikeouts.
Four of those eight hits were infield singles. Another of those hits was a check swing that blooped a ball over Creston’s drawn-in defense with a runner at third base, allowing a run to score, making it a 2-0 Glenwood lead in the fifth inning.
“I thought most of the little baseball things went their way,” Creston head coach Steve Birchard said. “I said I think they’re going to turn for us, and they didn’t. You’re just hoping they do turn, and they didn’t. Just didn’t get the breaks tonight.”
Glenwood took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning, taking advantage of two throwing errors that gave the Rams two bases. The second error came with two outs, allowing an unearned run to score from third base.
“We had the one unearned run that gets them on the board in the second there,” Birchard said. “Then it sort of gets them going. We just didn’t get timely hits, either. We never really mounted anything serious until the end there.”
The Panthers threatened in the bottom of the first inning, as Cole Crawford stood on third base after hitting a double and advancing on a groundout. But, Glenwood got out of the inning with a groundout.
Creston stranded runners in the first, third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings.
Glenwood added to its lead in the top of the fourth inning when Kyle Mertfeld led the inning off with a solo home run to left-center field.
The Rams caught another break in the fifth inning, when Corey Bertini’s check swing blooped a ball over the head of Kadon Hulett at first base, scoring Brady Wheeler from third.
After Wheeler led the inning off with a triple, the Panther defense was playing at the edge of the infield grass in hopes of cutting Wheeler down at home.
“You’ve got a good hitter up there and you get ahead of him, and you throw another good pitch, he check swings it and still gets a hit,” Birchard said. “You’re like oh here we are, we’ve got two strikes, but no, they get a base hit out of it.”
Phipps kept the Rams off the scoreboard the remainder of the game, and then helped his own cause in the bottom of the sixth inning, ripping a two-out RBI single to left field, scoring pinch runner Gavin Woods from second base.
The Panthers had two runners on with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
“We played pretty good ball,” Birchard said. “That’s what we’re capable of. I told the guys, whether they’ll be in our district, they’ll be in our substate and we’ll have to get through them one way or the other. Maybe in that third ball game, if we do see them, the breaks go our way.”
Prior to the game, as part of the “Battle Against Cancer” and fundraising efforts for Relay for Life, cancer survivor Emily Edwards threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Creston, now 6-6 overall and 5-4 in the Hawkeye 10 Conference, travels to Hawkeye 10 leader Denison-Schleswig (9-4, 6-1) on Thursday for a key varsity doubleheader.
It will provide the Panthers with a big opportunity to shake up the Hawkeye 10 Conference title race.
“It is an opportunity,” Birchard said. “We’ve got two of our best pitchers going. If we can hit the ball, I think we can play with anybody right now.”
Crawford and Chase Shiltz will take to the mound for the Panthers.
Other scores from around the Hawkeye 10 Conference on Tuesday were: Council Bluffs St. Albert 1, Lewis Central 0; Harlan 7, Kuemper Catholic 2; Shenandoah 12, Red Oak 0; Denison-Schleswig 7, Atlantic 1.
The Creston junior varsity team fell to 5-4 for the season with a 4-2 loss to Glenwood on Tuesday.
Brody Frain started on the hill, pitching 2 1/3 innings with three strikeouts, five walks and three earned runs. Cody Crawford pitched 2 2/3 innings with four strikeouts and five walks.
Frain, Deaven Reese and Dalton O’Riley each recorded a hit, while Gavin Woods finished with two hits, including a double. Frain and Crawford each drove in one run.
“Walking batters got us in trouble,” Creston JV coach Ben Landers said. “They’re a good team. They beat us 18-3, I think, the last time. We played them a lot tougher. We have to do better throwing strikes and getting ahead of batters, and fielding more consistently.”
Glenwood 3, Creston 1
R H E
Glenwood 010 110 0 — 3 8 0
Creston 000 001 0 — 1 5 3
Cob Baker 2BB 0K, Wyatt Schulz (4) 0BB 0K, Mavrick Decker (5) 0BB 0K 1HBP, Brady Wheeler (6) 0BB 0K 1HBP and Brady Wheeler and Wyatt Schulz. Brandon Phipps 0BB 4K and Chase Shiltz. W — Baker. L— Phipps. HR — G: Kyle Mertfeld 1. 3B — G: Brady Wheeler 1. 2B — G: Baker 1. Cr: Cole Crawford 1. RBI — G: Mertfeld 1, Corey Bertini 1. Cr: Phipps 1. Multiple hitters — G: Bertini 3.