KNOXVILLE — Two former Little Hawkeye Conference members from days gone by renewed acquaintances Tuesday night on the Knoxville baseball diamond and the Tigers turned back the Panthers 9-2. Grinnell rode a strong pitching performance by their big right hander, Jake Hull, for the win. Hull did surrender nine hits to the Panthers, but he countered that with nine strikeouts and only one walk.
The Tigers jumped on Panther starter, Colton Jones, for two quick runs in the top of the first, but the Panthers had an answer. Jones slashed a single to right field to open the inning and Mike Hudson mashed a long double to center to score Jones. After a Ben Olson single moved the runner up, Bode Cox sneaked a ground ball between the third baseman and the shortstop to score Hudson.
Knoxville would not score again and Hull became a tough customer with runners on base. The Panthers were able to get hits, but they had a hard time stringing them together.
“That has been a problem for us all season”, Knoxville coach Turner DeVore said. “We make good contact, but it has been a struggle to bunch hits together. We are very young with four freshmen starting so we just need to get them as many reps as possible.”
Meanwhile the Tigers put a three spot on the board in the third inning, one more in the fourth and three more in the sixth against four Knoxville pitchers. After Jones used his pitch count, the Panthers used Jackson Zuck, Blaise Hubler and Carter Bailey.
“We are pitching thin,” DeVore said. “With the pitching rules as they are and the number of games we are playing in the short season, we can only do so much. I thought the kids that we used did alright.”
Cox led the Panthers with three singles while Jones added two singles and Hudson rapped a double. Alex Smith led the Tigers with a double and two singles, Colin Gibson hammered a double and a triple and Hull added a double and a single.
The Panthers are now 3-5 for the season and they hit the road to Centerville tonight.
Grinnell 2 0 3 1 0 3 0 — 9 10 3
Knoxville 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 2 9 3
Knoxville Battery: Colton Jones (LP), 2.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, Jackson Zuck 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, Blaise Hubler 1.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, Carter Bailey 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, O BB, 0 K and Bode Cox.
Knoxville hitting – Jones 2-for-4, Mike Hudson 1-for-4, Ben Olson 1-for-4, Cox 3-for-4, Drew Robinson 1-for-3, Luke Spaur 1-for-2
2B – Hudson
Knoxville Runs – Jones 1, Hudson 1
Knoxville RBI – Hudson 1, Cox 1