July 18, 2024

Panthers edge ADM, 3-2

Creston second baseman Dylan Hoepker throws to first baseman Sam Henry after ranging to his left to field a ground ball against ADM Monday night. Hoepker scored a run and Henry hit an RBI double in the 3-2 victory.

Eventually, the meat of Creston’s batting order provided the punch needed to overtake ADM, 3-2, in the Panther baseball team’s regular-season finale Monday night.

The win capped a 23-10 regular season for Creston, which hosts conference rival Denison-Schleswig to open Class 3A substate play at 7 p.m. Friday. The winner meets Harlan (22-8) or Carroll (8-17) on Monday, at Creston if Carroll wins and at Harlan if the higher-seeded Cyclones prevail Friday.

ADM, coached by former Southwestern Community College player Jason Book, fell to 14-14 for the season. His son Jaxson was the Tigers’ catcher and his left fielder was Leyton Gerleman, son of Creston natives Cory and Andrea (Briley) Gerleman.

The Tigers had a 1-0 lead through two innings and stretched it to 2-0 in the third before the Panthers got on the board in the bottom of the thi

Second baseman Dylan Hoepker ducks as Creston shortstop Cael Turner throws to first base after fielding a grounder near the base during Monday's game against ADM. Turner was 1-of-2 at the plate with two runs scored in addition to pitching  2 2/3 innings of shutout relief of starter Parker Varner.

rd on Sam Henry’s RBI double to center field.

That was the score when Panther starting pitcher Parker Varner was relieved by Cael Turner in the fifth after 73 pitches. Turner needed only 31 pitches to shut down the Tigers the rest of the way as Creston rallied for the winning two runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Against Tiger reliever Alex Jensen, Varner drew a walk and Dylan Hoepker reached base on a fielder’s choice as Varner was thrown out at second. Turner also drew a walk and a passed ball moved the runners into scoring position at second and third.

Hoepker then scored the tying run on a wild pitch and catcher Tom Mikkelsen blasted an RBI double to deep center field, scoring Turner for the final 3-2 margin.

“I was just thinking of hitting the ball somewhere that we could get the run in,” Mikkelsen said. “I knew it would put us ahead, so I was really focused on that.”

Both ADM starter Grant Jansen and Varner pitched four effective innings, but were removed under the 90-pitch count to remain eligible for the opening of substate play Friday.

“It was a pitching duel, kind of what we expected coming into this week with districts coming up and guys getting ready,” Creston coach Brandon Phipps said. “We have three or four guys we know that can throw a lot in the postseason for us. Tonight the plan was to split those two and don’t overdo it. They both looked really good.”

Gavin Millslagle of Creston connects with a pitch against ADM Monday night. The senior left fielder hit a double earlier in the Panthers' 3-2 victory.

Mikkelsen finished with two hits for Creston. Gavin Millslagle added a double and sacrifice bunt.

“We had guys on base throughout the game, but the timely hits were missing for awhile there,” Phipps said. “We just kept chipping away and got it done. Tom has been swinging a hot bat and hopefully he can keep it going in the new season.”

Creston and Denison-Schleswig split their regular-season doubleheader. The Monarchs entered the week at 20-10 overall and an 11-9 Hawkeye Ten mark. Creston finished second in the conference at 14-5.

Creston center fielder McCoy Haines throws the ball to the infield after fielding a double by ADM's Jaxson Book Monday night.

“It’s good to win a close one like this heading into districts,” Phipps said. “It will be a good game (Friday). I think our guys will be excited for the opportunity to play at home. We just need to play good, clean baseball.

The other side of Substate 8 includes Lewis Central (19-12) vs. Glenwood (17-6) and eighth-ranked Bondurant-Farrar (22-8) vs. Atlantic (1-22).

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.