KINGSLEY, Iowa — The Kingsley-Pierson High School baseball team took over sole possession of first place in the Western Valley Conference standings with a 7-3 victory over Woodbury Central here Monday night.
The Panthers, now 7-0 on the season, snapped a 3-3 tie with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. K-P moved to 6-0 in the conference, while Woodbury Central (6-3, 4-1) suffered its first league setback.
Kingsley-Pierson did what it does best in the sixth, collecting three hits while moving runners along the basepaths. It did, however, have to hold off a Woodbury Central rally in the seventh.
“That’s a really good ballclub over there, they hit the ball well, they have good pitching and defense,” K-P coach Taylor Doeschot said of the Wildcats. “Our philosophy is to put a lot of pressure on teams. We always tell the guys, eventually pressure can break pipes.”
Emerson Pratt led off the Panther sixth with a walk before Jonah Walden rolled into a fielders choice. That’s when the wheels began to roll for K-P.
Leadoff hitter Malakie Christophersen singled to left field before older brother Matt Christophersen beat out a bunt single. Damon Schmid, who collected three hits in four at-bats, laced a two-run single up the middle while Jackson Howe followed with an RBI ground out.
Schmid, who also had a couple of diving catches in center field and pitched three innings in relief, scored the fourth run of the inning on a balk.
Woodbury Central mounted a comeback with one out in the top of the seventh when Zac Rocha coaxed a walk and Will DeStigter and Kaleb Bleil singled to load the bases.
Matt Christophersen — who entered with two outs in the sixth — made a heads up play by fielding a bunt off the bat off Matt Carney and quickly throwing to the plate to force the second out. Seth Even then hit a sinking liner to center that Schmid got a good jump on and made a diving catch to end the contest.
“Our pitching and defense behind our pitchers was phenomenal,” Doeschot said. “So hang our hats on a lot of pitching and ‘D’ too.”
Freshman Evan Neumann got the start on the mound, working the first three innings while allowing two runs on two hits. Woodbury Central cut into a 3-0 deficit with a couple of runs in the third.
The Wildcats drew even in the fifth when Rocha was hit by a pitch, advanced to second and third on wild pitches and scored on a bunt by Carney.
Woodbury Central, though, was limited to only the two third-inning hits until adding two more in the seventh. Kaleb Bleil, the losing pitcher, finished with two hits apiece for the Wildcats.
Defense let the Wildcats down early as they committed five errors in the first three innings, helping K-P mount the 3-0 lead.
“I tell our kids I want them to compete no matter what’s going on, just give themselves a chance,” said first-year Woodbury Central coach Andy Compton. “K-P is really good, they pitched the ball really well tonight and Damon (Schmid) is a really good player. It doesn’t shock me the results he’s having, he’s one of the best players in our league right now.
“They did a good job of putting the pressure on with really good discipline, working our pitchers, got them deep in the count and fouled pitches off. That’s what good teams do, they battle and I tip my cap to them.”
Kingsley-Pierson finished with eight hits, three by Schmid, who raised his batting average to .524 with 11 hits in 21 at-bats this season. Malakie Christophersen tacked on a couple of hits and is leading the Panthers with a .538 average.
“We knew it was going to be a short season so we wanted to take care of business from game one,” Doeschot said. “I think we’re working toward our ultimate goal to peak at the right time late in the year.”
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