Earlier in the day, Winterset and Creston learned about their matchup to open Class 3A district tournament play July 18 in Atlantic.
On Tuesday evening at Panther Field, Winterset sophomore catcher Colby Van Pelt had the only extra-base hit of the game in their preview of the district game. But it was a big one.
Van Pelt drove a 1-2 pitch from reliever Kadon Hulett over the fence in left-center for a two-run homer, which provided some breathing room in a 4-1 victory over the Panthers.
It was a well-played game controlled mostly by the pitchers as both teams managed only four hits and had one error.
Panther starter Trevor Luther scattered eight walks but continually worked out of trouble with solid Panther defensive play as he stayed in a duel with Winterset junior Jacob Larson. The game was tied 1-1 when Hulett was called on by coach Steve Birchard after Luther issued a leadoff walk in the sixth.
Winterset scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch, when the throw from catcher Chase Shiltz bounced past third baseman Brandon Phipps, allowing Allen Shahan to scamper home.
In the seventh, a walk preceded Van Pelt’s home run, boosting the Husky lead to 4-1. Hulett then fanned the side, but the damage was done.
In the Panther seventh Phipps hit a one-out single and Trey Benson walked, bringing the tying run to the plate. Shortstop Parker Klimesh relieved Larson at that point, and got the third out on a grounder to short hit by Jon Birchard.
The Panthers missed a golden opportunity while trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Cole Crawford walked and Luther singled. With cleanup hitter Nathan Haley coming up, a pickoff throw from Van Pelt caught Luther off first base for the second out. Haley then popped out to second base, ending the threat.
Creston coach Steve Birchard said the game showed how close his 10-12 team is to playing with the top teams in the substate announced Tuesday. Winterset (16-5) takes on Creston at 5 p.m. July 18 in Atlantic, followed by Glenwood vs. Atlantic.
Harlan, Greene County, Carroll and Denison-Schleswig are in the other district in Class 3A Substate 8.
“I told the guys, this is the number two seed and we’ve beaten the number one seed (Harlan),” Birchard said. “So, we know if we play and things go our way, we could make a run through substate. But it takes making the plays and being heads up. We need to put more consistency in our offense, up and down the order.”
The top five in the Panther batting order Tuesday went 1-of-12 at the plate. Third baseman Brandon Phipps had two of the Panthers’ four hits Tuesday from the sixth position in the order. Nelson had two of Winterset’s hits at the top of the Huskies’ lineup.
Winterset coach Travis Nedved said he sees the substate wide open, including opportunities for both his team and the Panthers when the playoffs start in nine days.
“It looks like the schools in Creston’s conference are beating each other up,” Nedved said. “Everybody has a shot if they hit the ball and make the plays. Tonight, we hit the ball well but they were just making plays. Our pitching and defense have been good for us, and in these tight games that helps out.”
Larson improved to 5-0 for the Huskies in the four-hit victory, just one out short of a complete game.
Prior to the game, Garret Taylor, Crawford, Benson, Haley, Birchard, Luther and Phipps were honored along with their parents in senior night recognition.
Today the Panthers and Clarinda resume their suspended game from June 3, with the Panthers batting in the bottom of the second and the score tied 1-1. The JV game will start at 3:30 p.m. with the rest of the varsity game to follow.
When the teams played at Clarinda, the Cardinals rallied from a 7-2 deficit with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to stun the Panthers, 8-7.
The busy week continues Thursday with a conference home varsity doubleheader against Lewis Central (22-7 overall, 13-4 in conference play.
Around the Hawkeye 10 Tuesday, scores were St. Albert 8, Shenandoah 1; Denison-Schleswig 17, Audubon 2 in four innings; Harlan 15, Clarinda 2; Glenwood 11, Le Mars 4; Missouri Valley 5, Shenandoah 4; and Lewis Central 4, Logan-Magnolia 3 in 10 innings.
Winterset won the JV game 9-5 as winning pitcher Cole Seiler struck out eight, walked three and allowed seven hits.
Cody Crawford pitched 2 1/3 innings for the Panthers and Brenden McDowell pitched the final 3 2/3. Combined they allowed 11 hits with two strikeouts, and one walk. The Panthers had four errors.
Third baseman Jaden Driskell was 2-of-3 with two RBI and one run scored for Creston (9-6). Dustin Merritt had a hit and drew two walks. Will Gordon hit a pair of doubles.
“We came out a little lackadaisical with some errors,” Creston coach Ben Landers said. “At the plate we were too anxious early, but we started hitting well in the fifth when we had three or four of our hits.”
After today’s action against Clarinda, the Panther JV plays two games Friday at Chartion in a matchup recently added to the team’s schedule.
Winterset 4, Creston 1
R H E
Winterset 001 001 2 — 4 4 1
Creston 000 100 0 — 1 4 1
W: Jacob Larson 2K 3BB 1 HBP, Parker Klimesh (7) 0K 0BB and Colby Van Pelt. Cr: Trevor Luther 1K 8BB, Kadon Hulett (6) 4K 1BB and Chase Shiltz. W — Larson. L— Luther. HR — W: Van Pelt. RBI — W: Van Pelt 2. Multiple hitters — W: Nick Nelson 2; Cr: Brandon Phipps 2.