The Creston baseball team fell short in converting a golden opportunity in the fifth inning in losing its regular season finale Tuesday night to Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln, 5-3, at Panther Field.
The Class 4A Lynx, coached by former Lewis Central coach Brett Elam, got three RBIs from right fielder Andrew Christensen in taking the nonconference victory.
The Panthers trailed 5-2 going into the bottom of the fifth inning, when it appeared they were about to put a big inning together. Leadoff batter Eli Loudon singled, advanced on a passed ball and moved to third on a sharp single by Gavin Gillam, which was the second hit of the night by the Panther catcher.
Bryce Fitzgerald dropped a single into right field as Loudon scored his second run of the game, making it 5-3. Luke Latham later singled to load the bases with one out. But relief pitcher Cade Nelson worked out of the jam by inducing a shallow flyout to right field and tossing a sharp curveball for a called third strike.
Creston went scoreless in the final two innings to fall to 10-22 for the season, while AL improved to 13-25.
“We didn’t get the timely hit,” Creston coach Steve Birchard said. “One out, bases loaded, we just needed to move the ball a little bit. In the first inning we had first and second and got thrown out at third when I gambled a little bit (stolen base attempt cut down). I was thinking maybe we could get something going.”
For the second night in a row, Creston pitching was adequate and the fielding was improved from Monday’s loss to ADM, with only one error behind pitchers Gavin Shawler and Keagan Smith.
“They had two runs in the first and two in the fifth, so they weren’t big innings we were giving up by any means,” Birchard said. “I told the guys we’ve come a long ways. We’ve been playing in some good ballgames as we’ve shored up defensively and our pitching came around. I knew we weren’t ready to throw strikes early in the season.”
Since starting the season 2-12, Creston was nearly at .500 the rest of the way, going 8-10 since then.
Gillam had an outstanding defensive game, throwing out four base stealing attempts at second by the Lynx. Play was interrupted for a short time after one of them as second baseman Luke Latham suffered a spike wound on his forearm, which required a wrap applied by trainer Chris Leonard.
“Gavin has done a nice job back there,” Birchard said. “He’s thrown a lot of guys out this year.”
UP NEXT — Creston, seeded seventh in the substate, faces second-seeded Dallas Center-Grimes on the Mustangs’ home field at 7 p.m. Friday to open Class 3A District 16 play after Glenwood and ADM meet at 5 p.m. Loudon figures to start on the mound for the Panthers against the Mustangs, who finished the regular season 22-14.
“I think we’re ready to test the waters Friday night,” Birchard said. “We’ve been as solid as we’ve been lately. We have Eli going and he’ll give us a chance. I assume we’ll see whoever their best is. We’ll have to bring the bats and be a little more productive.”
JV loses finale
Abraham Lincoln won the junior varsity game, 6-0, allowing only three base hits by Panthers Triston Barncastle, Avery Fuller and Briley Hayes. Fuller and Brayen Fitzgerald shared the pitching duties for the Panthers, who finished the season 4-9-1.
“Their kid threw pretty well and we didn’t have a good approach at the plate in some cases,” Creston coach Cole Crawford said. “We walked a lot of hitters and had some errors, so we kind of beat ourselves.”
Abraham Lincoln 5, Creston 3
R H E
AL 201 020 0 — 5 10 0
Crest 110 010 0 — 3 7 1
AL: Logan Kruse 0K 4BB, Cade Nelson (3) 3K 0BB, Andrew Christensen (7) 1K 1BB, Tyler Rardin (7) 1K 0BB and Tyler Rardin, Kobie Ferguson (7). Cr: Gavin Shawler 2K 1BB 3 HBP, Keagan Smith (5) 0K 0BB and Gavin Gillam. W — Kruse (2-3). L— Shawler (2-5). HR — none. 3B — none. 2B — none. RBI — AL: Andrew Christensen 3, Ben Fichter 1, Tyler Rardin 1; Cr: Bryce Fitzgerald 2, Evan Bruce 1. Multiple hitters — AL: Christensen 2, Austin Wickman 2; Cr: Gillam 2.