By Doug Brenneman, GTNS Sports
KALONA — Both high school teams relieved starting pitchers, but Pekin changed after the first inning and Keota changed after three consecutive no-out walks in the third.
Keota’s throwers gave up six walks and eight hits. Pekin’s hurlers did not allow a hit until two doubles in the final inning for a 4-2 Panthers win in a Class 1A District 8 baseball quarterfinal Saturday.
Keota ends the season with a 15-6 record. The Eagles finished third in the South Iowa Cedar League.
Pekin is 14-8 and advances to play Notre Dame at Burlington Tuesday in a semifinal.
Keota had lost four of five games in the middle of the season but was on a six-game win streak, averaging 12 runs a game.
“We should’ve been hitting better than we did, but we didn’t so I guess it is what it is,” Keota coach Dakota McCombs said. “We got some breaks here and there but it was not enough to win the game.”
The Eagles manufactured a run in the sixth inning with a walk, a hit batter, an error and a sacrifice fly by Austin Waterhouse. Justin Moeller had a leadoff double in the seventh inning, went to third on an error and was gifted home when Pekin tried a hidden ball trick that resulted in a balk.
“The kids did that on their own,” Pekin coach Curtis Reighard said. “I don’t teach that so they don’t know the rule.”
Pekin got two runs in the first inning off of Waterhouse and another in the fourth. He had five K’s, five walks and four hits allowed. Colten Clarahan replaced him and gave up four hits, a walk and fanned three.
Kennan Winn threw the first inning for the Panthers and walked three with two strikeouts. Caleb Comstock replaced him and kept the no-hitter going until the final inning. He walked one with five strikeouts.
“We have enough pitchers that we are not going to walk people,” Reighard said. “I thought Keota was a very decent team. You can’t make mistakes like that against that kind of a team. Caleb came in with senior ability and senior smarts and that’s what got us through this game. He never shakes off the pitch that I call. He misses a few times but that is high school baseball. He is smart and he knows what he’s doing.”
Tanner Bainbridge, Lathan Weaver and Winn had two hits apiece in the game for Pekin. Winn, Weaver and Quinn Ledger had two steals apiece as Pekin had 10 stolen bases in the game, including two steals of third in three attempts.
“When I first started, we did not steal at all, but we still a lot now. We work on it a lot,” Reighard said.
Comstock set Keota down in order in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings. He walked his only batter to start the sixth. While he did allow the two hits in the seventh inning, he also fanned two.
“I tried to just do what I’ve been doing all season and trust my instincts,” Comstock said. “It was getting hot and I got a bit tired, but I knew I could finish it.”
Reighard had singled out some players before the game who might be called upon to pitch.
“But one of them was not me,” Comstock said. “When he told me to go, I said ‘all right, I’m ready.’”
Pekin will play the Nikes (16-6), 1 15-0 winner over Winfield-Mt. Union. The Nikes beat Pekin June 5 5-0.
Six of the nine Keota starters this year were sophomores.
“We are going to miss our seniors a lot,” McCombs said of Waterhouse and Moeller. “We got out of a few jams and that’s a credit to the kids.”