Steed’s wild ride ends in defeat
He even took a no-hitter two outs into the seventh against Verona in a Big Eight baseball game here Thursday at Riverside Park.
But his 10th and 11th walks caught up to him when Verona sophomore Luke Yapp spun on Steed’s 128th pitch and crushed a two-out, three-run home run to left-center field. That broke up the no-hitter and a 2-2 tie, while giving the Wildcats at 5-2 victory.
It also snapped Craig High’s five-game conference winning streak, dropping the Cougars to 5-4 in the Big Eight and 7-5 overall. Verona improved 4-5 and 5-8.
Kyle Jenkins and Ben Neumann earned walks and tickets to ride on Yapp’s no-doubt homer. The first-year varsity third baseman walked and scored his first time up before striking out on fastballs that caught a lot of the strike zone in his next two at-bats, but he refused to be fooled a third time.
“In the first two at-bats, I struck out on pitches right there,” Yapp said. “The only two curveballs he threw me were in the first at-bat. I went up there knowing where he was going to bring it.
“He threw me a fastball and right away, right off the bat, I knew it was gone.”
Steed induced a ground-out by Brian Woods with his 129th pitch to wrap up a one-hit, complete-game loss.
Thirty-nine of those deliveries came in a disastrous two-run second inning that included four walks and an error that led to two unearned runs and a 2-0 Verona lead.
With the bases loaded, Craig third baseman Mitch Phillips charged a chopper by Landon Flora with intentions of cutting down Yapp at the plate, but the short-hop grounder ate him up, leaving the bases loaded with no outs. After striking out Ryan McDonald, Steed lost the leadoff batter, Kyle Jenkins, to force in the second run.
Steed had great stuff, but he struggled to locate his heavy fastball and his devastating curve. After walking two more in the top of the third, the hard-throwing right-hander used an economical 34 pitches over the next three innings and finished with nine strikeouts.
“He was dominating other than the issue of the walks,” Craig coach Victor Herbst said. “They weren’t hitting him; they weren’t putting balls in play.
“But we’ve talked about this all season long. It’s like a broken record—you can’t issue 11 walks in a game and expect to win.”
Verona senior Cole Kroncke worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, striking out the last two Cougars to pin down a 103-pitch, complete-game victory.
“This is the kind of performance we know he’s capable of,” Verona coach Brad D’Orazio said. “He had all three pitches working and was pounding the strike zone.”
Kroncke relied on his fastball. He struck out 10 and walked just one, while scattering five hits.
Two of those hits were by sophomore left fielder Dylan Hoskins. He scored, along with Mike Davis, on junior Jameson Henning’s two-run single through the middle of the infield that tied the game with one out in the fifth.
“That at-bat was typical of what we’ve been doing in our last four or five games on the little run we had,” said Herbst, whose team had rebounded from an 0-3 start in league play. “It was a great at-bat that got us back in the game and got us even for Cody.”
Davis started the rally by pulling a single just inside third base. Hoskins, who had a standup triple in the third inning, lofted a Texas-league single to shallow left field. The only other Cougar hit came when Phillips took a curveball the other way, putting runners at first and second in the fourth.
VERONA 5, CRAIG 2
Verona (ab-r-h-rbi)—Jenkins, ss, 2-1-0-1; Brandt, 2b, 2-0-0-0; Neumann, 1b, 2-1-0-0; Zwieg, dh, 4-0-0-0; Yapp, 3b, 3-1-1-3; Woods, rf, 1-1-0-0; Kroncke, p, 0-0-0-0; Flora, cf, 3-0-0-0; McDonald, lf, 2-0-0-0; McGowan 1-0-0-0. Totals: 20-5-1-4.
Craig (ab-r-h-rbi)—Henning, ss, 3-0-1-2; Perkins, 2b, 3-0-0-0; DeCremer, cf, 3-0-0-0; Youcher, rf, 2-0-0-0; Phillips, 3-0-1-0; Meyer, c, 3-0-0-0; Davis, 1b, 3-1-1-0; Hoskins, lf, 3-1-2-0; Steed, p, 2-0-0-0; Geller, ph, 1-0-0-0. Totals: 26-2-5-2.
Verona 020 000 3—5
Janesville Craig 000 020 0—2
E— Verona 1, Craig 1. LOB— Verona 7, Craig 4. 3B—Hoskins. SB—Woods.
Verona IP H R ER BB SO
Kroncke (W) 7 5 2 2 1 10
Steed (L) 7 1 5 3 11 9