SIGOURNEY – Sigourney freshman Peyton Crawford was right on his limit, according to head coach Lee Crawford.
But it seemed on Thursday night as his pitch count mounted, his pitches got harder to hit by Pekin batters. Even as he went well over the 100-pitch mark, Crawford seemed to get better recording five of his eight strikeouts in the final two innings of the “Skunk River” rivalry.
Unfortunately for Crawford and the Savages, the 129th pitch Crawford threw was one too many. But it proved to be the one perfect pitch Pekin’s Nazareth Rambo was looking for. The senior slugged a two-out drive well over the fence in left field for a tiebreaking three-run homer in the seventh inning as the Panthers won a classic battle of Keokuk County rivals 5-4.
“I’m glad I’ve got a great support staff around me,” Rambo said. “We’re playing much better as a team. You have to at some point if you want to start picking up some wins.”
The home run ball would be the last one Crawford would throw, ending a tough-luck night in which the Savage freshman was called on to eat up innings with Sigourney lacking depth in the pitching at the tail end of a busy week. Crawford saw his pitch count climb throughout the night thanks to early struggle with his command, leading to the Panthers drawing eight walks.
However, Crawford worked around the walks and allowed just two earned runs in the contest. None of the three seventh-inning runs proved to be earned as an error by third baseman Colton Schwenke opened the frame and forced the Savages head coach to start making plans for the rest of the inning.
“He was right on the border with me of coming out when we got around to the top of their order again (in the seventh),” Crawford said. “He was within one batter of coming out anyway. If he had gotten (Petie) Clubb, he probably never would have faced Rambo, because I don’t think I would have let him pitch into the eighth.”