Kingsley-Pierson rallies for win over North Linn in quarterfinals

Tuesday, July 19, 2022
(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Damon Schmid sprints around the bases on Conner Beelner’s RBI double in the first inning to give the Panthers an early lead.

CARROLL — Trailing 4-2 entering the sixth inning, the Kingsley-Pierson rallied to tie the game in the sixth before taking the lead and clinching the win in the seventh. The Panthers beat North Linn 7-4 in a Class 1A state quarterfinal game played Monday at Merchants Park.

“I’m just really proud of these guys,” K-P Head Coach Taylor Doeschot said. “We knew it was going to be a really tough game coming in. It’s a great squad over there.”

The Panthers, the five-seed in the 4-vs-5 matchup, wore down North Linn starting pitcher Austin Hilmer in the final two innings for five runs. Hilmer entered the game with just 10 earned runs allowed in 45 innings pitched this season, but the Panthers, who entered with the state’s top batting average at .410, were able to score seven runs against Hilmer in the game, six of which were earned.

Hilmer walked Conner Beelner to lead off the sixth inning and after a steal of second, Beelner came around to score on an RBI single to left field off the bat of Malakie Christophersen. He said that was when the team began to see the tide turning in their favor.

“After that, I could tell we really locked it in,” Christophersen said. “After that base hit and the RBI I could feel the momentum turn our way.”

(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Brandon Kron drops down a perfectly executed bunt to bring home the tying run for the Panthers in the sixth inning.

A walk and single then loaded the bases. Brandon Kron then executed a bunt to bring home the tying run. The Panthers loaded the bases once more with a hit-by-pitch, but the Lynx were able to escape the inning without any further damage done as Cael Bridgewater made a nice diving catch in center field to rob Emerson Pratt of a hit which would have given the Panthers the lead.

The Panthers had the top of the order due up in the top of the seventh in a 4-4 tie ballgame. Damon Schmid led off the inning by reaching on an error on a ball which got past the first baseman. The Panthers made the Lynx pay for the error as Beelner followed with a base hit, part of his 2-for-3 game with three runs scored. A sacrifice bunt from Evan Neumann moved both baserunners into scoring position before Christophersen sent a ball to the left-center field 358-foot sign to drive in a pair of runs with a double.

(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Malakie Christophersen celebrates while scoring a run for the Panthers in the seventh. He led the team with 3 RBI in the win.

“All day the pitcher was feeding me curveballs and I was ready,” Christophersen said. “Honestly, the only thing I was thinking about was a first-pitch curveball. I saw it come out of his hands and start hanging so I just swung for the fences.”

The Panthers added an insurance run as Boston Doeschot traded places with the runner at second with a double to right-center.

Beelner finished off a solid relief appearance on the mound with a strikeout to end the game in the bottom of the seventh. He earned the win after pitching three innings of relief giving up just one hit, a two-out single in the seventh. He ended with a pair of strikeouts and didn’t walk a batter.

(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Conner Beelner fields a ground ball and makes a throw across the diamond. After starting in the infield, Beelner took the mound and earned the win in relief. He gave up just one hit in his three innings.

The Panthers jumped on Hilmer right away in the first inning as Schmid legged out an infield single and Beelner hit a double to left-center field. It was only the second extra-base hit for Beelner on the season as the junior, who entered the state tournament batting .531, had just one other double out of his 43 hits.

Beelner advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Neumann.

Getting the first inning runs were important according to Doeschot.

“To get a couple runs early was big for us,” Doeschot said. “We kind of went a little silent there in the middle innings but I knew we were going to break out eventually.”

The Panthers maintained their 2-0 lead until the third inning when the Lynx tied the game on a 2 RBI double from Mason Bechen.

The Lynx added two more runs in the fourth to take the lead as an error and bases-loaded walk provided the runs. All four runs were charged to starting pitcher Neumann, but only one of the runs was earned. He ended up going 3 1/3 innings while giving up five hits and striking out three. Kevin Wright came on in the fourth and walked a pair, including with the bases loaded, but got out of the frame with a strikeout.

North Linn ends their season with a 31-3 record.

(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Jackson Howe makes a play on the infield for the Panthers in the state quarterfinal game against North Linn.

Kingsley-Pierson improved to 27-4 with the win as they advance to Wednesday’s state semifinal round. The Panthers will try to avenge two of their four losses as they will face top-seeded Remsen St. Mary’s for the third time this season.

The two teams met on May 28 in a tournament hosted by RSM which the host school won by a 7-5 score. The two teams also met in the Spalding tournament on June 18, a game which the Hawks won 6-2.

“Playing our neighbors to the north, that’s a great ball club,” Doeschot said. “Coming down to state I said a couple years ago, you’ve got to beat all the good teams to win this thing. We won’t take them lightly. They know us pretty well, we know them pretty well. I think the team that comes out, plays clean D, throws strikes has a good chance.”

The semifinal game between the Panthers and Hawks will take place at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday at Merchants Park.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: