For most of Tuesday afternoon, Knob Noster pitcher Ivan Pyszka kept the Spartan bats quiet at Southview Field as he outdueled Richmond starter Josh Isgriggs. Pyszka and the Panthers took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh before some timely hitting and hustle by the Spartans paid off with an exciting 3-2 MRVC East victory.
The Spartan victory keeps them a half-game behind Lexington in the battle at the top of the conference standings. Richmond is now 3-1 in the league with the Minutemen improving to 3-0 following Tuesday’s 2-1 home victory over Higginsville.
Knob Noster, now 0-2 and 3-6, took a 2-1 lead into the home half of the sixth inning and it appeared the Spartans were about to break through, but Pyszka wriggled out of a jam. Richmond got singles from Corey Adkison, Colby Bowles and Kyle Carroll, but Pyszka fanned the next two Spartan batters to get out of the inning unharmed.
The Spartans were down to their final out in the bottom of the seventh when Branden Evans worked his way on base with a walk. Kyle Ash followed with his second double of the afternoon on a hit-and-run play, which pushed Evans around the bases to home with the tying run.
Pinch runner Gabe Vandiver then replaced Ash on second as Corey Adkison came to the plate. The Spartan catcher, who singled in his last at bat, then hit a dribbler toward shortstop. Vandiver put his head down and quickly rounded third with Adkison hustling down the line to first.
The throw to the bag was not in time to get Adkison and the Panther first baseman then turned and fired a throw to home, but it wasn’t in time to get Vandiver who crossed the plate with the winning run.
Ash’s first double of the afternoon had given the Spartans a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third. His shot down the first base line chased Evans home after he had reached on a two-out single.
Pyszka helped his own cause for Knob Noster in the fourth inning. The Panther junior reached on a one-out double, and scored one batter later on another double by Brennon Walker.
The visitors took the lead in the next inning with Jimmy Pirrillo leading off with a walk, followed by a single from Matt Malkey. The Spartans appeared to get out of the inning without any damage, but it was ruled that Pirrillo beat the throw to Richmond third baseman Ash on an infield hit. Pirrillo later scored the lead run. The Panthers would protect that lead until the final Spartan plate appearance of the afternoon.
Isgriggs got the win for the Spartans with a complete-game effort. The Richmond junior surrendered 5 hits while walking 3 and striking out 8. Pyszka scattered 7 hits, with 4 of those coming in the final two innings. He also hit a batter, walked 3 and struck out 8.
The Spartans will host Lexington Thursday afternoon. The Minutemen won the first meeting 1-0 earlier this season.