Panthers shut down WashingtonShull and Amos pitch Mt. Pleasant to a doubleheader sweep of the Demons
Mt. Pleasant’s Connor Shull and Dustin Amos both had sparkling pitching performances, and the Panthers swept Southeast Conference rival Washington by scores of 5-1 and 7-1 on Thursday night at Dick Sojka Memorial Field.
“They both threw great games,” Mt. Pleasant head coach Brent Broeker said of his starting pitchers. “I just told them down there in the huddle that I haven’t seen them throw that well together in probably a year. I thought those two did a great job for us tonight.”
Shull threw a complete-game four-hitter in the opener, striking out 10 Demons while not issuing a walk. He said he was pumped up to face rival Washington.
“We look forward to playing Washington every year because we know it’s a big-time rivalry,” he said. “We just got out there and pitched our hearts out. That’s all we can do. That’s all the coaches can ask from us.”
Mt. Pleasant scored first when junior Justin Dilks ripped a two-out single down the left-field foul line in the first inning to bring junior Carson Remick home to score. The Demons tied the score in the bottom of the first when juniors Walker Breard and Elijah Wood hit back-to-back singles with two outs. Breard scored from second on Wood’s single into shallow left field.
But Shull didn’t give up another run over the game’s final six innings.
The Panthers took the lead for good in the second inning when No. 9 hitter Trey Magnani hit a two-out double into right-centerfield to bring junior Tyler Pace home to score. Magnani later scored on a Washington error to make it 3-1. An error and a sacrifice fly by Dilks allowed Mt. Pleasant to score two insurance runs in the fifth inning.
Senior Jake Dickinson took the loss despite throwing a solid game. He allowed five runs, three of which were earned, on just five hits. Dickinson also had one of Washington’s four hits in the game. Breard finished 2-for-3, and Wood had an RBI single.
The Demons didn’t hit the ball much better against Amos, who scattered seven hits over seven innings and allowed just one run.
“Dustin pretty much handled them the whole game, and that’s tough to do after you beat a Washington team in Game 1 because you know they’re coming back ready to bite you back,” Broeker said. “I thought he did a great job.”
Mt. Pleasant scored a run in the top of the first inning on a Washington error, and then Magnani drove in a run in the second when he grounded into a fielder’s choice.
Washington trimmed the lead to 2-1 when junior Jacob Green drove in a run in the third inning, but Amos wouldn’t give up another one.
“I threw a lot of stuff I normally don’t because they do have a lot of good hitters, so I just can’t blow it by them all the time,” Amos said.
The Panthers scored five runs in the fourth inning to take control. Sophomore Austin Smith drove in a run with a bunt single, a run scored on a wild pitch, Remick hit a two-RBI single, and junior Colton Schinstock hit an RBI single.
“Our players did a great job of putting pressure on them every inning,” Broeker said. “We had guys on base all the time, and there were probably only two or three innings where we didn’t get anybody on. We had guys at second or third in multiple innings, so we were constantly putting pressure on, and then they had a few miscues that got us some extra runs that we might not have had otherwise. I thought our hitters did a great job just putting the ball in play and putting pressure on their fielders.”
Wood kept the Panthers from adding to their lead, as he threw three shutout innings and struck out five batters. But the Demons were unable to get any closer.
“Their pitching was outstanding, but we didn’t step up to the plate, period,” Washington head coach Nathan Miller said. “I think we came out kind of ho-hum, and they took the bull by the horns. I just felt like we were emotionally flat. You’ve got to have some emotion in the game of baseball. Have to. You have to have that. I hope we learned that you can’t come to the yard that way.”
Mt. Pleasant swept the Demons in Washington for the first time since 2009. It was a bit of surprise since the Panthers entered Thursday’s doubleheader with a record of 1-4, while the Demons were a perfect 5-0.
“We had played Muscatine on Saturday and hadn’t played in a while, so I was nervous,” Broeker said. “We played terrible against Muscatine, so I didn’t know what to expect.”
What he got was two outstanding pitching performances as the Panthers swept their rivals.
“It’s really exciting just for the simple fact that we can sweep these guys and say that we did it on their home field,” Shull said. “It’s exciting.”