Pekin baseball clobbers Columbus
■ Pekin boys collect 18 hits in four-inning rout.
PACKWOOD — Hits. Walks. Errors.
The Pekin baseball team benefited from a bit of all of those things Thursday and sailed to a 15-run rule victory over Columbus in Southeast Iowa Super Conference North action in Packwood. Pekin blasted the visiting Wildcats 17-2.
Jaydan Nicholson went 3-for-3 with a home run and four RBI and senior teammate Kirk Talley was 3-for-4 and knocked in four more runs as the host Panthers claimed the win in just four short innings. Petie Clubb added two hits, including a double, and two RBI, and Kolby Allsup tripled and scored three times.
“It was good to get the bats going finally,” said Pekin senior Graham Wittrock, who added two hits and a walk with two runs. “We’ve hung in there and now we seem to be playing better defense.”
“A dang good night hitting,” agreed first-year head coach Pie Reighard. “I just think we’re getting better as a team. We’re playing as a team and getting some upperclassman leadership, and that’s important.”
Pekin had 18 hits in the contest, which was more than enough to back up starter Wittrock, who usually plays second base but was making his first start of the season from the mound. Wittrock needed 66 pitches to get through the four innings, giving up only one hit and walking two. He allowed two earned runs and struck out five.
The win kept Pekin in the conversation for the SEISC North division title. The Panthers currently trail first-place Mediapolis, Wapello and Louisa-Muscatine, and Wittrock said a division title is ultimately the goal in Packwood.
“We want to win a conference title. I know that’s my goal, and as a team I think that’s our goal,” the senior said. “I know it’s going to be tough, but if we keep working hard we can do it.”
If the Panthers keep hitting like they did on Thursday, anything might be possible.
Nicholson got the Panthers off to a promising start Thursday, smacking a towering three-run home run in the first inning to hand Pekin a 3-0 lead. The home team scored six more runs in the second inning, highlighted by a two-run triple from Allsup, and later a two-RBI double from Clubb with two outs in the frame. Also in the inning, Jon Irwin had a sacrifice RBI and Talley slapped a two-run single.
Columbus got its only two runs vs. Wittrock in the top of the third, but Pekin answered with four more runs in the bottom of the inning to up its lead to 13-2. Pekin then put the game away for good in the fourth, as Allsup, Nicholson, Thomas Slaney and Talley all knocked in one run in the inning.
Irwin finished 2-for-3 from the plate with three runs scored, and Cole Reighard was 2-for-2 and drew a pair of walks. Slaney added one hit as well as two runs, and Nazereth Rambo had one hit and plated a run.
The Panthers, who moved to 6-7 overall and 6-4 in the SEISC North with the victory, host Wapello (12-4, 7-1 SEISC North) today. The Panthers will be looking to avenge an early season, 5-3 loss to Wapello.
“We hit the ball pretty well tonight, and I hope that continues tomorrow against Wapello. We’ll need it,” Reighard said.