By SCOTT JACKSON Courier sports writer
---- — PEKIN – He was retired in his first at-bat of the day. In his second at-bat, he innocently flew out to right field.
Pekin’s Kolby Allsup spent most of the rest of his Saturday on the move around the bases on his home diamond. The next six times the Panthers junior infielder stepped to the dish, he made sure he didn’t go back to the dugout without at least making it out to first base safely.
All six times Allsup reached base safely Saturday, Pekin put runs on the board. Those runs proved to be pivotal as the Panthers rallied for an eight-inning 3-2 win over New London in the opening game of their home three-team round-robin tournament Saturday and pulled away down the stretch to finish off a 12-4 victory over Moravia in the third and final game of the day.
“Anything to get on base is what I’m thinking when I step up into the box,” Allsup said.
In both games on Saturday, that mindset served Allsup well. The junior reached on an error and eventually scored the tying run in the sixth against the Tigers, setting himself up to be the walk-off hero in the eighth with a single that brought home Graham Wittrock with the game-winning run.
“I had a lot of pressure on me, but I fought it off and came through,” Allsup said of his final at-bat against New London. “I just fought the pitch off, sent it to the opposite field and scored the run.”
Against the Mohawks, Allsup’s mentality continued to pay off for the Panthers. Despite collecting just two hits in five at-bats, Allsup reached base four times and drove in three more runs with a double, a triple and scored twice including a tie-breaking run in the fourth as Pekin snapped 4-4 tie and never looked back with the final eight runs scored over the final three innings.
The wins pushed Pekin back over .500, to 10-8 as the Panthers continued their recent string of success having won eight of their last 10 games. Even though it wasn’t pretty at all times, the Panthers continued a recent trend of stepping up in clutch situations.
“As a team, we’re still not playing to our potential,” Pekin assistant coach Brad Stevens said after coaching the Panthers to a pair of wins on Saturday. “We’ve got guys that do come through when we need them to come through. Kolby Allsup is definitely at the top of that list.”
Allsup was hardly alone in helping Pekin put away their second win of the day against the Mohawks. A grand total of 11 different Panthers came across home plate before the finale of the tournament was over to put the 12 runs on the board against Moravia.
Pekin’s second win was also Moravia’s second loss. While the finale ended a successful week for the Panthers, it also brought an end to another frustrating week for a young Mohawks’ team that saw depth issues rear its ugly head Saturday.
“We’re a young team with five eighth-graders players every day and two or three freshmen playing,” Moravia head coach Michael Kauzlarich said. “This was also our sixth and seventh games of the week, so we were a little light on our pitching coming in. ”
The Mohawks will head to South Central Conference-leading Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont for a non-conference area contest tonight. After having Monday’s conference game at Highland rained out, Pekin will return to Southeast Iowa Superconference north division play at home tonight against Louisa-Muscatine.