by Beau Wicker
Caston’s Caleb Rowe was a tour de force against arch-rival Pioneer on Monday.
The senior right-hander fired a no-hitter and also hit a two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning to individually deliver a 2-0 win in the second game of a double-header.
“It was a good day to be a Rowe,” Caston coach Blake Mollenkopf said.
The Comets completed an 8-6 win over the Panthers earlier in the night in a game that was postponed from Friday.
The Class A No. 9 Comets (12-5) are 8-2 in Midwest Conference play heading into Saturday’s twinbill against undefeated an No. 1-ranked Frontier (10-0 MWC). They host North Miami tonight in a non-conference game.
With a no-hitter going on the mound, Rowe blasted a two-run home run to left center in the top of the seventh to give him all the run support he would need.
Alex Howdeshell opened the seventh with a pinch-hit double.
Rowe walked two and fanned five. The Comets committed one error behind him.
“I thought he did a great job,” Mollenkopf said. “He was getting ahead of the hitters and challenging the hitters. He only had five strikeouts, but he threw to contact. Credit our guys for making the defensive plays.”
Rowe isn’t the only member of his family that has no-hit Pioneer. His older brother Elliott Rowe did back in his playing days. Elliot went on to pitch for four years at Bethel, graduating in 2012. He was in attendance for his younger brother’s no-no on Monday, according to Mollenkopf.
“I told Caleb he one-upped Elliot by hitting a home run to win with his no-hitter,” Mollenkopf said. “It was neat that Elliott was there to watch him throw it. It was a neat moment for their family. They’re a great family, he’s a great kid. I’m happy for him.”
Caleb Rowe went 7-for-8 with a home run, two doubles and five RBIs in the sweep of Pioneer.
“He’s been really locked in,” Mollenkopf said. “He’s a very intelligent kid who’s going to enroll at Purdue. He’s done a really nice job. He started off really well at the plate, hit a little dry spell and now he went 7-for-8 in a doubleheader. He’s really turned it on. It helps when your leadoff hitter is always on base.”
Pioneer freshman Tucker Waddups took the tough-luck loss in game two. The right-hander allowed the two runs on seven hits, striking out 10.
“Waddups threw really well,” Mollenkopf said. “He did a nice job of keeping us off balance. He mixed in the fastball to the inner half of the plate. It was a good pitcher’s duel.”
The Comets struck for eight runs in the top of the first inning on Friday night and didn’t score again until Caleb Rowe’s blast in the bottom of the seventh inning on Monday.
“We had a lot of runners in scoring position over about 14 inning where we didn’t come up with the big hit,” Mollenkopf said. “It takes just one. Baseball is won on pitching and defense, which works out when you’re kind of grinding at the plate.”
Corey Moss completed his complete-game win on Monday in the opener. He allowed six runs on nine hits and three walks, striking out four.
Deven Smith completed the game as well for the Panthers (5-10-1, 5-5 MWC). He allowed eight runs, all in the first inning on Friday, on 12 hits and six walks, striking out six in seven innings of work.
Caleb Rowe went 4-for-4 with a double and three RBI for the Comets. Caleb Baldwin and Jake Howdeshell each went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Waddups went 2-for-4 with three RBIs for the Panthers. Smith went 2-for-2 with an RBI, and Grandstaff went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Pioneer travels to Rossville on Thursday.