PALMYRA, Mo. — Palmyra starting pitcher Bennett Stice threw a complete game shutout as the Panthers defeated Macon 4-0 on Tuesday at Flower City Park in Palmyra.
Stice struck out 12 Macon batters in his shutout, while only allowing one hit and two walks. He had four strikeouts in the second inning after a passed ball allowed Parker Swallow to reach base for Macon.
“That’s going to happen some with Bennett with as nasty as his stuff is and as hard as he throws,” said Palmyra head coach Mark Loman. “He knows to stay within himself and not try to overthrow in those situations, so we don’t have a wild pitch or passed ball in that situation. Making it a little easier for our catcher back there.”
Palmyra got to Macon starting pitcher Chrisjen Riekeberg early on in the first inning, capitalizing on walks and errors by the Tigers defense.
Palmyra loaded the bases for Brody Lehenbauer after leadoff hitter Landyn Smith reached on an error, Wade Begley was hit by a pitch and a walk from Zane Meyers. Lehenbauer then hit a two-RBI single to give Palmyra a 2-0 lead.
“That was a big hit,” Loman said. “He was just pushing the ball to the right side. What we are trying to get everybody to do is not overswing and that was just a good piece of hitting.”
The Panthers scored two more runs in the first inning when Meyers scored on a passed ball and Lehenbauer scored on an error.
Loman said his team showed good plate discipline in the first inning by not swinging at pitches outside the strike zone.
“It was nice to get (Stice) a lead in the first inning and thankfully we were able to catch their guy when he was not sharp for whatever reason,” Loman said. “I think part of that was the start of the first inning and we got some runners on base. (Riekeberg) looked a little flustered, but he definitely got back on the hill and tip his cap for shutting us down for the rest of the game.”
Riekeberg was able to turn the page after a four-run first inning, only allowing one more baserunner the remainder of the game, a single to Palmyra right fielder Alex Wilson in the fifth inning.
Riekeberg finished with 10 strikeouts in six innings of work, while allowing two hits, three walks and two earned runs.
“He worked fast and he was really commanding his little cutter whenever he wanted to once he found the zone,” Loman said. “He made it very difficult to pick up. He hides the ball really well.”
Riekeberg also got the only hit for Macon, a single in the third inning.
Palmyra (5-2) will play next on Saturday in Hannibal for a baseball cluster that also includes Kirksville. The Panthers will play Kirksville at 1:30 p.m. and Hannibal at 4 p.m.
The Panthers plan to hold a couple of practices and have his pitchers throw a bullpen session prior to Saturday’s cluster.
“We are going to need everybody because we are going to play 14 innings,” Loman said. “Bennett is going to be playing first base on Saturday. It will be a good chance to see what they can do against quality teams.”