Pella Christian outlasts Grinnell

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The 2020 Pella Christian baseball team. (photo by Ken Kinne)

The Pella Christian Eagles took part in a see-saw battle with the Grinnell Tigers at Principal Park on June 24. When it was all said and done, the Eagles outlasted their Little Hawkeye Conference foe and left Des Moines with a 9-8 victory.

Grinnell got on the board in the bottom of the first after Parker Johnson led off with a triple to center. He was driven in by the next batter via sacrifice fly. After an easy grounder to get the second out, starting Eagle hurler Devin Haveman struggled by putting the next three batters on base with two hit batsmen and a walk. This brought Jack Anderson to the mound, who got the Eagles out of the inning.

Pella Christian’s bats responded in the top of the second, when Blake Veenstra belted a double to deep center. David Willis reached on an error before Kyle Branderhost hit a sac fly to bring Veenstra home.

Stone Turner drew a walk and two batters later, Dan Jungling hit an RBI single over the shortstop’s head. Luke Mulder copied him with a single of his own, up the middle to drive in another run to put the Eagles up 3-1.

There was nothing going for the Tigers in the second half of the inning. The Eagle defense got to shine as the first and second basemen were able to catch a runner in a pickle.

In the top of the fourth, the Eagles tacked on another run when Turner was driven in by a Jungling double to left.

The 4-1 Pella Christian advantage was short lived. With two gone, three batters were put on base via a walk and being hit by a pitch. This brought up Grinnell’s top hitter, Colin Gibson, who drove a triple down the third baseline to bring all three home. Jake Hull then hit a double to bring Gibson home and reclaim the lead, 5-4.

The Eagles rallied in the top of the fifth, kicked off with a Matthew Bokhoven single to left. Veenstra and Anderson each walked before Jack Vermeer walloped a triple to the right field wall to retake the lead. Vermeer was driven in by Jungling on a single he dropped in front of the right fielder.

Jack Vermeer bunting (photo by Ken Kinne)

Pella Christian led 8-5 going into the bottom of the fifth. Anderson and the defense had its first 1-2-3 inning of the game with three straight pop flies.

Grinnell came out strong in the bottom of the sixth after the Eagles were unable to take advantage of a walk and fielder’s choice. The Tigers got Anderson into a bind with a walk and two singles before Bokhoven was brought to the mound. Two Grinnell batters made sacrifices to get runs across, after a third had scored on a wild pitch to tie it up. Bokhoven got the Eagles out of the inning with a pick off at first base.

Going into the last regular frame of the game, the Eagles were looking to break the tie. With two outs, Vermeer hit a single to right before using his speed on the base path to steal second. Jungling dropped another single in front of the right fielder to bring Vermeer across the plate with no throw or tag.

Blake Veenstra closing out a game at Principal Park. (photo by Ken Kinne)

Veenstra came on in relief with one on and one out. He struck out the final two batters and the Eagles got out of the home of the Iowa Cubs with a great 9-8 victory.

Head Coach Jeff Bruxvoort said he needed some players to step up and they did. He praised Anderson for his pitching performance as an example. Anderson threw four innings for the Eagles.

“Guys just kept coming back and responding,” Bruxvoort said. “That’s pretty awesome to see.”

He was very excited for his team and pleased they were able to pick up the win. Jungling led batters, going 4-for-5 with four RBI and a stolen base. Vermeer went 2-for-4 with three RBI and a stolen base.

The Eagles are taking on Dallas Center-Grimes on the road tonight (June 25) in a double header.