June 25, 2022

Panthers solid in 6-3 home win

Calvin powers offense with two doubles

The Creston baseball team solidified its hold on fifth place in the Hawkeye Ten Conference with a solid 6-3 home victory over Red Oak Thursday night.

Dylan Hoepker and reliever Cael Turner combined on the seven-hit victory, backed by a solid defense an offense that got the early lead (3-0) in the second inning. Catcher Kyle Strider threw out two Red Oak baserunners trying to steal second, with Turner at shortstop applying the tag both times.

Dylan Calvin was a productive hitter in the ninth spot in the order with two doubles and three runs batted in. Avery Fuller provided three hits, including a double, and one RBI.

“Our pitchers and defense did a good job,” Creston coach Brandon Phipps said. “It was clean baseball. We got guys on base and moved them around. We talked about driving the ball better, getting the barrel on the ball. I thought we did a better job of that tonight.”

Hoepker and Red Oak pitcher Brett Erickson were locked in a scoreless duel until the Panthers put a rally together in the second inning. Fuller singled to right center, Sam Henry followed with a single down the right field line, and Conner Wiley loaded the bases by drawing a walk after a flyout.

Calvin then delivered the first of his two doubles to score Fuller and Henry. Wiley followed them home after the throw to third base got away into foul territory. Calvin tried to come all the way around to score as well, but was thrown out at the plate to end the uprising.

Red Oak closed it to 4-3 in the fourth inning on a hit by pitch, a walk, two errors and a two-run hit by Brandon Woods.

Calvin doubled to deep left again in the fourth to score Wiley to make it 5-3. The Panthers got an insurance run on Hoepker’s sacrifice fly in the fifth.

Turner relieved Hoepker with two outs in the sixth and collected three called third strikes among the five batters he faced to earn the save.

“I kind of have a walk limit with my guys and Dylan was getting behind in the count so we made the change,” Phipps said. “When you know you ave a good guy in the pen it’s an easy decision. Turner mixes it up and sometimes starts with the first-pitch curveball to keep them off balance. He and Hoepker both have good command, especially for how young they are.”

The win completed a season sweep of the Tigers by the Panthers, after an earlier 12-6 victory on May 27 at Red Oak. Creston plays at fourth-place St. Albert, 13-8 overall and 9-5 in the league going into Thursday’s action, in a doubleheader on Monday.

There was no JV game Thursday due to a lightning delay during the designated JV time period.

Larry Peterson

LARRY PETERSON

Former senior feature writer at Creston News Advertiser and columnist. Previous positions include sports editor for many years and assistant editor. Also a middle school basketball coach in Creston.