For the first four innings Wednesday night in Pilot Grove, the Tigers and Prairie Home couldn’t decide who was going to take the lead while battling to a 0-0 tie.
But then in the fifth, the Tigers got the break they were looking for almost by default with one run on just one hit. The rest was history as Pilot Grove later came back to add five runs in the sixth to beat Prairie Home 6-1.
The win improved Pilot Grove’s record to 3-1 overall while Prairie Home fell to 1-4.
“Prairie Home has a very solid lineup and I thought Cole (Meisenheimer) did a great job for us tonight,” said Pilot Grove coach Evan Oswald. “Cole kept the ball around the strike zone all night, which made it very easy for his teammates to stay engaged throughout. We made a couple mistakes out on the field, but we were able to wiggle our way out of those jams. Their pitcher did enough to keep us off balance all night, but we were able to break up a tie ballgame when Kealin Vinson hit a sacrifice fly to center.
“In the sixth inning, we were really able to open the ballgame up. Everybody that came to bat that inning really gave us a quality at bat and allowed us to tack on five more runs. We still aren’t hitting the ball the way I would like, but hopefully that starts to come around. If we can get clicking on the offensive side of the ball, we will be a dangerous team throughout the season. Our pitching staff is really throwing the ball well right now. If we can turn up our offensive production and concentrate on doing the little things, then these Tigers will make quite a run this spring. We are looking foward to our matchup with Jamestown on Monday.”
Up until the fifth, Pilot Grove and Prairie Home wasted plenty of scoring opportunities. The Tigers stranded five runners in the first inning and had the bases loaded in the second with just one out. As for Prairie Home, they left three on in the first three innings.
But that all changed in the fifth as the Tigers loaded the bases with a single, hit batter and intential walk before getting a sacrifice fly to center by Kealin Vinson to make it 1-0.
Pilot Grove never trailed after that by exploding for five more runs in the sixth on three hits and four walks to extend the lead to 6-0.
Pilot Grove also batted around in the sixth by sending 12 batters to the plate. The Tigers scored the second run on a wild pitch. Meisenheimer then drove in two runs with a single to right. The final two runs scored on a bases loaded walk and a wild pitch after a strikeout.
The Panthers didn’t go down without a fight, though. While struggling to move runners all game, Prairie Home finally got on the board in the seventh with one run on one error, one walk and a RBI-single to right by Alex Rhode.
Prairie Home coach Trever Huth said this was easily the best game of the year so far. “Blake (Petsel) went out there and gave us a chance to win and the defense really showed up be hide him tonight,” Huth said. “Cole pitched a really good game against us and kept our hitters of balance most the night. We did finally make some adjustments throughout the game to get better at bats, but all in all we hit the ball well and played really well tonight.”
Meisenheimer picked up the complete game victory for Pilot Grove while Blake Petsel took the loss for Prairie Home. Meisenheimer struck out 11 batters and gave up one run on four hits and one walk. Petsel, meanwhile, pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed five runs on five hits and six walks while striking out one. Talon Benne then came in and pitched 2/3 inning and surrendered one run on one hit and two walks while striking out two batters.
Pilot Grove also out-hit Prairie Home 6-4, with Lucas Fahrendorf and Luke Kollmeyer each collecting one double. Meisenheimer had a single and drove in two runs Dalton Reuter added a single and one RBI and Bailey Quint and Dade Christy each with one single.
For Prairie Home, Alex Rhode had a single and one RBI while Blake Petsel, Blane Petsel and Kassen Lock added one single each.
In the JV game, Pilot Grove and Prairie Home played to a 1-1 tie.
The Tigers scored their only run of the game in the first while Prairie Home sent one run across in the second.
Bo Vinson pitched 2 2/3 innings for Pilot Grove with five strikeouts. Austin Small pitched all three innings for Prairie Home with one strikeout.
Lucas Fahrendorf doubled in the game for the Tigers while Kealin Vinson had one single and one RBI and Dylan Schupp and Laben Twenter each with one single.
Prairie Home was led by Colton Searles with one double. John Fontanna had a single and one RBI while Blane Petsel added one single.