CRESTON — The Clarke baseball team got out to a good start here Friday against Creston, but just couldn't keep pace with the Panthers late in a 13-3 loss in five innings.
The Indians took an early 1-0 lead in the game after leadoff hitter Chasen Selsor rapped a single up the middle and stole second base.
Selsor came home on a Gable Reece double into deep center field. Reece advanced to third base on a groundout by Trevor Kirkpatrick, but the inning ended with a strikeout, stranding Reece on third.
Starting pitcher Dustan Van Loon put runners on second and third in the bottom half of the inning, but got Creston third baseman Nate Haley to hit a weak grounder in front of the plate for the third out of the inning.
Creston struck for four runs in the bottom of the second inning, fueled by a two-RBI single by Jon Birchard and a Zach Powers solo home run.
But the Indians answered back in the top of the third inning.
After Damon Helgevold led the inning off with a walk, Selsor hit into a fielder's choice. Yahia Aly struck out for the second out of the inning, and then Haley, pitching in relief for the Panthers, issued back-to-back walks to Reece and Kirkpatrick to load the bases.
Landon Spurgin then hit an 0-1 pitch into the outfield for a big two-out, two-RBI single, scoring Selsor and Reece to make it 4-3.
Spurgin was thrown out at second base trying to steal on a first-and-third situation, ending the inning.
"Chasen Selsor came up with a couple of big hits for us to keep us in it early, but there toward the end, they just got out and we couldn't catch up to them," Clarke head coach Keegan Smith said. "Landon came up with a big-time two-out hit to get a couple of RBI in."
The Panther bats came up with another big inning in the bottom half of the third, though, pushing five runs across on four hits, including another two-RBI hit from Birchard out of the nine-spot. Powers also came up with a two-RBI hit in the inning.
Creston scored two runs in both the fourth and the fifth innings, as well, while also keeping the Indians off the scoreboard to end the game 13-3 after five innings.
Van Loon, despite giving up 13 runs on 12 hits, did a good job of throwing strikes for the Indians. He walked just three batters and struck out one.
"He pitched real well for us," Smith said. "He kept the ball low and got some ground balls, some pop flys. I was real proud of how well he pitched."
After a long week of games, Smith noted that his team is improving.
"It was a rough week for us, but we're young," he said. "We're going through some growing pains, but we're getting some kids some good experience. They keep working hard and keep good spirits about things. We're getting better."