Pitching lifts the Demons to a sweep of Keokuk
KEOKUK — Washington pitchers Tanner Knupp, Blake Weidman, Austin Witt and Elijah Wood combined to allow just four runs and strike out 19 batters in Monday’s Southeast Conference baseball doubleheader at Keokuk, which the Demons swept by scores of 9-3 and 2-1.
“We pitched really well,” Washington head coach Nathan Miller said. “Their only run in the second game was scored on a wild pitch. We threw strikes for the most part. They had four walks and 19 strikeouts in 14 innings.”
Knupp, who started the opening game of the doubleheader, got into some trouble in the first inning. Keokuk’s leadoff batter, Matt Murphy, reached on an error. Knupp struck out the next batter and then coaxed a fly out, but then gave up a walk and hit a batter. That set up Keokuk sophomore Nate Lisering’s double to left field, which brought home three runs.
“We didn’t play really strong defense in that first inning,” Miller said. “All three runs were unearned. We had two errors in that first inning. After that first inning, we played outstanding defense for the most part in the rest of the doubleheader.”
Knupp didn’t give up another run in the game. He allowed three unearned runs on four hits in four innings as he improved to 2-0 on the season. He struck out five batters and walked one.
Meanwhile, Washington (5-0, 2-0 SEC) scored two runs in the top of the first inning when juniors Walker Breard and Wood hit back-to-back doubles. The Demons regained the lead in the third when Breard hit an RBI single and Wood followed with a sacrifice fly that made it 4-3. The Demons piled on five more runs in the seventh inning to secure the win.
Breard went 3-for-3 at the plate with two doubles and two RBIs, and Wood was 1-for-3 with three RBIs. Senior Jake Dickinson had a hit and two RBIs. Junior Jacob Green went 2-for-4 and scored a pair of runs, and Knupp was 1-for-4 with two runs scored. Senior Kyle Roder and sophomore Blake Weidman also had hits in the game.
Witt threw a scoreless fifth inning, and then Wood struck out five as he threw two shutout innings to get the save.
The second game of the doubleheader was a pitcher’s duel between Washington’s Weidman and Keokuk’s Dakota Shaw. Weidman came out on top, earning his first varsity win. He allowed one run on five hits in 4 1/3 innings, striking out two batters and walking two.
Washington scored first in the second game, as Witt and Roder, the Demons’ Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, came up with RBI singles in the top of the second inning.
“I thought from 1-9 throughout the lineup we had productive at-bats last night,” Miller said. “Kyle Roder had hits in both games, and Austin Witt had a big RBI single in the second game.”
Green, Wood and Dickinson added hits for the Demons in the second game. Shaw allowed only five hits as he took the loss in a complete-game performance. He struck out seven Demons and walked four.
Keokuk (3-7, 0-2 SEC) scored a run in the bottom of the third inning when junior Matt Murphy scored on a wild pitch, but that’s all the Chiefs were able to muster.
Wood threw the final 2 2/3 innings of the game to earn his second save of the night and third of the season. He did not allow a hit or a walk and he struck out six batters.
The Demons will take an undefeated mark into Thursday’s SEC doubleheader against Mt. Pleasant (1-2) at Dick Sojka Memorial Field. But the records are thrown out the window when these two rivals square off.
“It’s a rivalry game,” Miller said. “That’s all you need to put. Historically, the last 15 years they’ve been in the mix for the conference championship. I think they won 10 in a row. Every time Washington and Mt. Pleasant play, it’s a battle.”