Quintin Crandall pitched Nickerson to a first-game 3-2 baseball victory over Hoisington.
Hoisington’s Ethan Woodcock returned the favor with five shutout innings to salvage a split of Tuesday’s doubleheader with a 6-3 victory over Nickerson.
Hoisington (3-3) had lost three consecutive games, two in extra innings to Great Bend. Nickerson (4-2) has split two doubleheaders.
“We’re continuing to figure out how to close out games,” said Hoisington coach Tim Schremmer. “We’re up 6-0 and struggled in the seventh inning. We’ve been right there with a chance to win every game.”
Colton Zink doubled home Dylan Bell and scored on a wild pitch for a 2-0 lead after six innings.
Hoisington’s defense was brilliant. Centerfielder Erik Simpson leaped to catch Crandall’s two-out liner to strand two runners in the third inning. Catcher Zink picked off baserunners in the fourth and fifth innings to end two threats.
“Those were huge plays and we showed we’re capable of making those plays,” Schremmer said.
Nickerson coach Rich Krol said the baserunning mistakes are a sign of inexperience. Producing more runs is Krol’s chief concern with four freshmen starting.
“We didn’t hit the ball and had a few opportunities but hurt ourselves on the bases,” Krol said. “We had men in scoring position, but we got picked off twice. Our young gys are still learning how to hit the ball.”
The Cardinals scored four valuable insurance seventh-inning runs for a 6-0 lead when Bell, Zink and Cory Umphrey delivered run-scoring singles. Bryce Steiner scored Bell with a squeeze bunt.
“That was a huge offensive inning to get four runs,” Schremmer said. “We executed the squeeze play and Umphrey got a big two-out base hit.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Crandall’s two-run double scored Conor Gomes and Justin Engelland and Ryan O’Toole doubled home Crandall. But reliever Terry Crawford recorded the final out for a 6-3 victory.
In the opener, Crandall (3-0) struck out nine batters in 3 2/3 innings in relief of Conor Gomes. Crandall showed off a fastball that has been clocked more than 80 mph.
“Crandall was by far the best pitcher we’ve seen,” Schremmer said. “He throws hard. It’s nice to have an arm like that.”
Krol said Crandall is Nickerson’s best bet on the mound.
“Quintin pitches well. He’s the best we have and I like to use him as our closer,” Krol said. “We’re trying to get everyone else some pitching experience. We played pretty good defense and pitched pretty well.”
Gomes, the starting pitcher, retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced. Zink reached on an error and Steiner walked in the fourth inning. Umphrey singled home Zink and Steiner scored on a double steal. Crandall worked out of further trouble with two strikeouts.
Hard-luck loser Caleb Larson (1-2) yielded three runs in the third inning. Gomes was hit by a pitch and Justin Engelland walked. They moved into scoring position on an attempted pickoff play and Crandall delivered a two-run single. Crandall scored the third run on alert baserunning.
Nickerson plays at Lyons and Hoisington travels to Hays-Thomas More Prep Friday.