Sweep nets Panthers share of SEC title
The Mt. Pleasant baseball team scored big in the first inning of last night’s doubleheader against Ft. Madison, and the Panthers didn’t let up until they had claimed a sweep and a share of the Southeast Conference crown.
The Panthers won by scores of 12-1 and 12-2 and finish the regular season 16-12 overall.
They wrapped up the SEC season with a record of 12-4, tied with Fairfield. Ft. Madison took third at 10-6, followed by Washington (5-11) and Keokuk (1-15).
“We just put the bat on the ball and put pressure on the pitcher,” Mt. Pleasant Coach Brent Broeker said. “In game one especially, we kept putting runs on the board, spreading the gap.”
“We came up to the plate ready to hit; we didn’t wait around,” Jacob Dilks said.
Alex O’Donnell started the Panthers off with a triple and scored on an Austin Smith single. Justin Dilks’ double brought in Smith, and a double by Carson Remick knocked in Colton Schinstock, who had walked.
The Panthers then tacked on three more runs in the second, one in the third and four in the fourth to end the game early.
Dustin Amos and the Panther defense allowed one run in the first inning and shut down the Bloodhounds from there.
Amos gave up two hits and two walks, striking out six in the five-inning effort.
“After the first game, I don’t know, maybe we were just a little too relaxed,” Broeker said. “But we focused back in to put it away.”
The Panthers scored three in the first frame of the nightcap, but were then held scoreless until the fifth. Ft. Madison put up their pair of runs in the early innings to keep the game close.
“In game two, we faced a pretty tough kid,” Broeker said, “(and he) held us to 3-2 for a while, but he just ran out of gas.”
Pitching for the Panthers was Jacob Dilks.
“In the first couple innings I was shaky, but every inning after that it kind of picked up,” he said. “It helps to have good coaches behind you, helping you into the late innings.”
It was the late innings when the Panthers took their big lead, posting three runs in the fifth and scoring six in what would be the final frame.
Trey Magnani tripled and crossed the plate on a wild pitch/dropped third strike to Austin Smith, giving the Panthers the 10-run lead they needed to end the game and seal their share of the conference title.
“(Winning conference) is always in the back of your mind, but you don’t want to think about it too much (during the game),” Broeker said. “I think the guys did a good job.”
But the fight for the SEC crown was just a warm up.
The real test against Ft. Madison comes Friday, when Mt. Pleasant plays the Bloodhounds in the first round of the district tournament.
“It feels good (to get a share of the conference), but now we have to let it go,” Jacob Dilks said. “We’ve got to get ready for Friday’s game.”
On Friday, Mt. Pleasant will throw Connor Shull; Ft. Madison will put its ace, Collin Eaves, on the mound.
“They didn’t throw Eaves tonight, and that’s a game changer,” Broeker said after the SEC doubleheader. “(On Friday), we’re going to have to fight for every run we get.
“We’ve been on the kids to go after a first pitch fastball,” Broeker added. “Taking the first pitch is a good strategy when you want to get a guy out of the game on pitch count, but in seven-inning games, it just doesn’t work. And on Friday, when Eaves is fresh, if we get a good fastball, we’ve got to swing at it.”
The district game begins at 5 p.m. on Friday in Fairfield.
“It’s too bad that we have to face them in the first round — I think both teams deserve to move on,” Broeker said.
Ft. Madison 100 00 — 1
Mt. Pleasant 431 4x — 12
WP — Dustin Amos
Mt. Pleasant — Alex O’Donnell: 2-4, 3B, run. Austin Smith: 2-3, BB, 2 RBI, 3 runs. Colton Schinstock: 1-2, 2 BB, 3 RBI. Justin Dilks: 1-2, 2B, 2 BB, RBI, 2 runs. Jacob Dilks: 0-3, BB, run. Carson Remick: 2-2, 2B, BB, 3 RBI, run. Connor Shull: 1-2, BB, RBI, run. Justin Chalupa: 1-2, 2 runs. Tony Cristoforo: 0-0, run. Steals — Smith (2).
Ft. Madison 110 000 — 2
Mt. Pleasant 300 036 — 12
WP — Jacob Dilks
Mt. Pleasant — O’Donnell: 0-3, 2 BB, run. Smith: 1-5, RBI, run. Schinstock: 2-3, BB. Justin Dilks: 2-4, 2 runs. Remick: 2-4, 2B, RBI, 2 runs. Tyler Pace: 2-3, 2B, RBI. Amos: 1-4, 3B, 3 RBI, run. Chalupa: 1-1, 2 BB, RBI, run. Trey Magnani: 1-3, 3B, RBI, run. Cristoforo: 1-1. Devyn Broeker: 0-0, 3 runs.